Tuesday, September 20, 2022

SpiceJet sends 80 pilots on 3-month Leave Without Pay

SpiceJet will send around 80 pilots on Leave Without Pay as the airline finds itself with excess pilots. Sources said that around 40 pilots from the Boeing 737 fleet and another 40 from the Q400 fleet- which the airline operates on regional routes have been asked to go on Leave Without Pay for three months.

The airline will call them back gradually as it deploys new aircraft into its fleet. SpiceJet plans to add seven new Boeing 737 Max starting from December.

An airline spokesperson didn't yet comment on the issue. The airline is also mulling the option to wet lease aircraft till the time the new aircraft come in. However, wet-leased aircraft will not require additional pilots as they are operated by the crew of the lessor airline.

"At the beginning of 2021, the airline had around 95 aircraft. But the fleet is now down to 50 aircraft as the airline has returned many planes back to lessor, while some are down due to lack of spares and maintenance issue. So it makes no sense to have excess pilot and build up cost for the company. The pilots will be called back as and when new aircraft join," said a person aware of the development.

SpiceJet is returning older 737 aircraft which it inducted from Jet Airways while lessors have repossesed around four aircraft. Around 10 of its Q400 aircraft are grounded due to lack of spares.

He added that rationalising the cost by way of Leave Without Pay will also allow the airline to increase salary of existing pilots. SpiceJet is facing stiff competition from foreign airlines and domestic airlines like Akasa Air who are on a path of expansion.

20/09/22 Arindam Majumder/Economic Times

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