Thursday, September 22, 2022

SpiceJet's pilots say they are 'caught between a rock and a hard place'

Budget carrier SpiceJet has been making headlines for the wrong reasons for the last five months. In April, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) barred 90 of its pilots from flying the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX planes, when the airline was involved in a slew of accidents that prompted the DGCA to restrict the airline to operating only half its summer schedule.

The airline also suffered a data breach in June, and an agitation by its pilots, cabin crew, and technical engineers. The airline however, has been able to keep the agitation a low profile one.

In the last week itself, the airline said it was sending 80 pilots on Leave Without Pay (LWP) and the DGCA extended its cap on the airline's schedule till October 29.

In the midst of all the ongoing turbulence in SpiceJet, its employees have continued to suffer and are seeing no quick end to their troubles.

"Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, things have only gone from bad to worse. Everyone is struggling to make ends meet at SpiceJet, but simultaneously have no other option as well," a pilot with five years of experience based out of Delhi, told Moneycontrol.

He added SpiceJet's pilots were finding it difficult to find new jobs due to the limited requirement for Boeing pilots, as SpiceJet and Akasa Air are the only two airlines that operate Boeing aircraft in India.

"Some pilots have attended interviews with other airlines. However, their in-hand salary for the first six to nine months will be even lower than that at SpiceJet if you take away the training costs," the pilot said.

Furthermore, he added that training to convert to an Airbus pilot would take two to three months, which would mean, overall, a pilot switching jobs will be making substantially less money for nearly a year.

The flight control systems of Boeing and Airbus planes are quite different due to which the skill sets needed to fly these planes are not comparable.

Another former pilot from SpiceJet, who recently joined a foreign carrier, said that despite him being not actively employed with the airline, SpiceJet made him serve a three-month notice period and gave him his relieving letter nearly five months from the day he resigned.

22/09/22 Yaruqhullah Khan/

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