Amid crisis, Jet Airways pilots hop on to other carriers


Many Boeing 737-800 pilots have opted for SpiceJet

As Jet Airways makes an effort to get the cash-strapped airline back on track, its pilots have started to resign and move to other carriers.

While 10 to 15 pilots from JetLite and Jet Konnect have joined Air India Express, many of the other Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (NG) pilots have opted for SpiceJet, which held interviews in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Jet Airways officials said that while a few had already joined, a 100 had been offered jobs by SpiceJet, while others have appeared for interviews or have evinced interest.

“Several pilots, having ancestral connection in the southern cities of Kochi, Kozhikode, Tiruvananthapuram, Tiruchi, Thrissur etc. have all opted for Air India Express, which has a huge presence in the region,” a senior commander with Jet Airways and a former managing committee member of the National Aviators Guild (NAG) said.

Air India Express is a low-cost airline and a fully-owned subsidiary of Air India. Since it operates a fleet of 25 Boeing 737- 800 NG aircraft like SpiceJet, an Operators Conversion Course would get the pilots airborne within a fortnight of joining.

Senior SpiceJet officials said pilots of Jet Airways had shown interest in joining it over the past three months and that some had already joined.

GoAir, Vistara, IndiGo are among the domestic airlines that have attracted pilots who have in the past flown an Airbus 320. Scoot, Oman Air and Fly Dubai are among the international carriers which have also attracted pilots from Jet Airways.

With the financial year set to end, Jet Airways pilots want to have a good credit score and be able to pay EMIs on loans and school fees on time.

“We are also normal human beings. The stress levels will keep creeping up how much ever we try and keep them behind. We try our best but this stress of unpaid salary is unwarranted and needs to be eliminated immediately,” current NAG president, Captain Karan Chopra, a Boeing 777 commander at Jet Airways with more than two decades of experience as a pilot, told NDTV.

Captain Asim Valiani, another senior Jet Airways pilot, told NDTV that pilots want their salaries paid with a clear roadmap. “If these demands are not met, we will stop flying,” he said.

IndiGo, which operates a pure Airbus fleet, is hiring over 100 Boeing 737 commander-level pilots from Jet Airways. These pilots would require six months’ training so that they could fly the Airbus 320s. In mid-February, IndiGo said it would operate about 30 fewer flights each day till March-end due to the pilot shortage but these flights have now been taken out from the entire summer schedule that goes on till October. These pilots from Jet will help IndiGo get back on track at a lower cost since it would incur lesser spending on expatriate pilots.

In addition, several senior expat pilots have reportedly quit their jobs at IndiGo in the last few months, impelling the airline to scout for new ones to fill the vacant posts.

“We continue to engage in recruitment efforts both for expats and for the pilots who might be out of job in India to join us,” William Boulter, IndiGo’s Chief Commercial Officer, said on the sidelines of the airlines’ first service to Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday.

IndiGo had previously said it was offering jobs to Jet Airways’ pilots along with compensation for their overdue salaries. In addition to hiring Jet’s staff, IndiGo has already hired about 130 expatriate pilots to tide over crisis.


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