Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pilot exodus prompts India Air regulator to turn labor watchdog

India’s aviation regulator wants senior pilots to provide at least a year’s notice before changing jobs, a move aimed at stemming exits that sometimes force airlines to scrap flights at the last minute. 

New Delhi: India’s aviation regulator wants senior pilots to provide at least a year’s notice before changing jobs, a move aimed at stemming exits that sometimes force airlines to scrap flights at the last minute.

The proposed rules, if implemented, would affect experienced pilots who often move to foreign carriers lured by higher salaries. The draft measures, doubling the period to one year for commanders, may also upset market leader IndiGo’s ability to hire crew for its proposed small aircraft fleet, which it plans to start operating as soon as this year.

The world is going through an acute shortage of experienced pilots as airlines, especially in Asia, order thousands of new planes valued at trillions of dollars. Airlines worldwide will need to recruit and train about 617,000 pilots to fly 39,620 planes, that are expected to be added through 2035, according to Boeing Co.

Pilots leaving their jobs is sometimes “is in the form of a concerted move, which is tantamount to holding the airline to ransom and leaving the traveling public stranded,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in draft rules posted on its website. The regulator has invited comments from the public by June 14 before finalizing its decision. IndiGo spokesman Ajay Jasra declined to comment.

“The DGCA is paying more attention to mundane things like this rather than passenger safety which they appear to be totally ignorant of,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a former commercial pilot and an aviation consultant based in Chennai. “IndiGo’s ATR plans will go for a toss if the one year notice period comes into force.”

India is the world’s fastest growing major aviation market, and overtook Japan as the third-biggest by domestic passengers last year, with airports in the South Asian nation handling 100 million local travelers compared with 97 million for Japan, according to CAPA. Potential for air traffic growth in India, which expanded about 24 percent last year on the back of an emerging middle class flying for the first time, has lured Singapore Airlines Ltd. and AirAsia Bhd. to set up local units, while Etihad Airways has bought a stake in Jet Airways India Ltd.

Original article can be found here: http://www.livemint.com

Domestic airline commanders may face difficulties in quitting their jobs as they may soon have to serve a notice period of one year, up from six months at present, as per latest rules proposed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“It has been decided that every pilot working in an air transport undertaking shall give a ‘Notice Period’ of at least one year in respect of commanders and six months in respect of co-pilots to the employer indicating his intention to leave the job,” a draft rule issued by DGCA director general B.S. Bhullar said. The draft rules were approved by the Civil Aviation Ministry on May 12, 2017.

The DGCA said that training pilots for airline operations take between eight to nine months as they have “to pass technical and performance examinations of the aircraft, undergo simulator & flying training and has to undertake ‘Skill Test’ to satisfy licence requirements” before flying.

The draft DGCA rules said that the notice period can be reduced if the airline accepts pilot’s resignation earlier than the required notice period.

The Federation of Indian Airlines had last year written to the Central government demanding increase in mandatory notice period from six months to one year, after facing threat of pilot poaching from Gulf carriers and new Indian airlines.

However, the newer airlines such as Vistara and AirAsia India had opposed the move. Similarly, the Indian chapter of the International Federation of Airlines Pilots Association (IFALPA) had opposed the demand of domestic carriers to extend mandatory notice period for pilots to one year, urging the regulator not to give precedence to “commercial interests” over flight safety. Following widespread opposition, the DGCA refused to take any immediate action on the proposal.

Original article can be found here: http://www.thehindu.com

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