Tuesday, August 31, 2021

SpiceJet pilots under pay-cut stress, safety hit, alleges ex-Capt; airline denies allegation

Mumbai: The massive pay cut imposed by SpiceJet for the past eighteen months has put its pilots under tremendous financial stress which has turned the airline into a flying hazard, said a pilot who resigned from SpiceJet this year after nine years of service.

In a damning open letter sent to the Prime Minister and top civil aviation officials on Tuesday, Capt Vinodh Loganathan said that there have been instances of first officers and crew breaking down in the cockpit and so had to be consoled.

SpiceJet in a statement to TOI, strongly denied the allegation of flight safety hazard due to financial stress as ``completely false, baseless” SpiceJet said it "has a strong flight safety culture and an impeccable safety record. It continues to maintain the highest standards of safety in operations with no compromise on quality.”

The airline said: "The ex-employee had a history of poor performance on account of his attitude, failure in tests and exams and being abusive to his colleagues especially juniors.”

Refuting this, Capt Loganathan said: "I have never failed any tests. Their allegation is absolutely frivolous. I have documentary proof.”

Capt Loganathan said he had applied for a post in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation a few months ago and SpiceJet vice-president, operations had sent an NOC letter to the DGCA on June 10, 2021. He shared the said letter with TOI. It stated that Capt Loganathan had "maintained a high level of proficiency, integrity and no penalty or administrative action whether major or minor was imposed against him” when he was employed with SpiceJet.

The former SpiceJet pilot, in his August 31 letter, titled, 'The flight safety hazard called SpiceJet’ said that while other airlines have imposed a 15-30 % salary cut, SpiceJet employees, including pilots have been under a 70-85 % cut since March 2020. SpiceJet did not respond to a specific query about the quantum of salary cut.

The letter said that many pilots have sold their houses or have been forced out of their homes by the banks due to EMI non-payment.

"Anyone who asks for their salary are off rostered and forced to resign….Many pilots and cabin crew are financially stressed and are not in a state of mind to operate. A financially stressed set of crew are a flight safety threat and since they are not in the right state of mind a crash can happen anytime," said Capt Loganathan’s letter.

"I know I have taken a huge risk by bringing this out in the open and SpiceJet will make sure that there will be no place left for me in aviation in India. However, being an aviator, for the sake of my unfortunate colleagues and being a citizen of this great country, I consider it my duty to bring this safety hazard to you," said the 38-year old captain, who has over 5,500 hours of flying experience. The pilot alleged that when he raised the salary matter, he was verbally abused by certain SpiceJet officials, his flying duties stopped and he was forced to resign.

31/08/21 Manju V/Times of India

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