Sunday, December 07, 2014

Exodus stalks SpiceJet, pilots leave to join Jet Air, IndiGo

Amid a funds crunch, flight cancellations and the and the aviation regulator keeping a close tab on its curtailed operations, budget carrier SpiceJet is seeing an exodus of pilots, mainly in favor of Jet Airways and IndiGo.

At present, around 125 pilots have quit the airline and are serving the six-month notice period, sources said, adding of them 54 have already applied for a job with Jet and IndiGo.

Of those who have quit, 98 are captains while the rest are first-officers. “These pilots will start leaving the airline from December as and when their notice period gets over,” source said.

The airline currently has around 525 pilots.

While the airline did not reply to an email from HT, it said in a media statement that “even after the pilots on notice part ways with SpiceJet in the coming months, we will have more than enough pilots to fly our fleet”.

Concerned over the deteriorating condition of SpiceJet and flight cancellations, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday withdrew 186 of its slots and asked it to clear salary dues of employees by December 15. The regulator would also carry out “heightened” surveillance of all SpiceJet flights on landing to ensure that safety is not compromised due to its financial troubles.

The number of daily flights is down to 240 from 332 in September while the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet is down to 22 operational aircraft. The airline is operating only 13 of its 15 Q400 aircraft.

“Such high-levels of attrition are unusual,” said Subhash Goyal, Chairman, STIC Travel Group. “SpiceJet’s survival is important for the Indian aviation sector,” Goyal said.

The airline reported a R310-crore loss during July-September quarter. Aviation consultancy Center for Asia Pacific Aviation has said that Spicejet has a funding requirement of $250 million to stabilize operations.

The airline’s promoter and media baron Kalanithi Maran is said to be in talks with investors.


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