Thursday, September 09, 2021

Vistara to absorb 70 AirAsia India trainee pilots grounded for a year

Mumbai: Nearly 70 trainee pilots in AirAsia India who have been grounded for over a year will get an opportunity to work with Vistara.

While Tata group companies have inter-company transfer policies, such a co-operation between the two airlines is unique. It will allow the trainee pilots to resume flying, help Vistara execute its expansion plans and could be a sign of further synergies between the two airlines.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted air travel and hampered the growth plans of airlines. It impacted pilot training too. Trainee pilots undergo ground classes, simulator training and supervised flying before being released for regular duty.

Airlines have been operating fewer flights compared to pre-Covid times, as capacity has been capped by the government. Fewer flights means reduced training opportunities for junior crew.

Some 70-80 pilots were under training in AirAsia India but their training came to a halt because of Covid-19 pandemic. These trainee pilots are now being offered a chance to join Vistara as AirAsia India has sufficient pilots to meet its requirements.

"This will certainly benefit pilots in their career progression. It is not so much of a cost saving exercise for the airline," a source said.

Currently AirAsia India has 27 Airbus A320 aircraft and will be receiving another aircraft next month. No other addition is planned at the moment. It is operating around 110-120 flights daily which is around 55-60 per cent of its pre-Covid capacity. Currently, government allows airlines to deploy 72.5 per cent of its capacity

AirAsia India declined comment. In an internal email the operations department wrote to the pilots that selected candidates will have to undergo ground and simulator training to maintain the validity of the licence before their transfer to Vistara. Those who do not wish to take the transfer will be assigned office work within the airline and no assurance can be given regarding the start of training in AirAsia India, the airline told its trainee pilots.

09/09/21 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

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