Friday, January 02, 2015

Jet Airways job ad for pilots sets industry abuzz

It is looking to hire pilots familiar with a type of aircraft that only SpiceJet owns and operates in the country.

Jet Airways is seeking pilots with experience in flying Bombardier Q400, a type of turboprop aircraft it currently does not own but which features prominently in SpiceJet's fleet.

The move has sparked speculation that Jet Airways may be considering to buy the planes from loss-making SpiceJet, which was forced to briefly ground its fleet last month after suppliers refused to refuel its planes.

SpiceJet is the only Indian airline that owns and operates Bombardier Q400s. It has 15 such planes.

The recruitment ad does not mention the number of positions Jet Airways is looking to fill. But it clearly states that the carrier wants chief pilots with at least 1,000 hours of experience in flying the Q400. The candidates' overall flying experience should be at least 3,000 hours.

The eligibility criterion for first officers is 500 hours of flying time on Q400s.

The ad has set the industry abuzz. "Everyone wants to know whether Jet intends to buy SpiceJet's fleet of Q400," said a SpiceJet pilot who operates one such plane. "SpiceJet is the only airline in the country that operates the Q400. And unlike its Boeing fleet, the Q400s have not been leased; they are owned by the airline."

SpiceJet refused to comment.

An auditor, who has worked with the two airlines, expressed surprise over Jet Airways' recruitment plan. "Jet is getting out of tier II sectors and it is shutting down JetLite as brand dilution had affected the airline. The move to hire pilots familiar with the Q400 does not seem to fit in Jet's overall strategy," said the auditor, who didn't want to be named as he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the airline.

Aviation analyst Vasuki Prasad said that Jet might be looking to hire SpiceJet pilots. "Earlier, Jet tried to train first officers, who had experience in operating Boeing aircraft, to switch to ATR turboprops. However, the transition did not happen smoothly. It's cheaper to hire a pilot familiar the turboprop engine and make him/her switch to ATR planes," Prasad said.

A senior Jet Airways official: "By insisting on Q400 requirement, we are looking at a near seamless transition."

Currently, Jet has 18 ATR planes and 200 pilots with experience in operating the aircraft. Of the 200 pilots, several are expats who are paid much more than Indian pilots. One of the eligible criteria for the new openings at Jet is that the candidates must be Indian nationals.

On why Kingfisher pilots, who were familiar with turboprop planes, were not considered for previous openings, the Jet official said: "We gave Kingfisher pilots three opportunities, but they failed each time. It was acultural mismatch."

Jet Airways did not respond to an email sent by Mirror regarding the new openings.

Original article can be found at:

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