Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Pilots In Demand: Indian Airlines Are Luring Experienced Cockpit Crew

Given the ravenous appetite of Indian airlines for pilots, things have certainly progressed in the last few years compared to the pandemic, which forced many to rethink their careers. Such is the demand for qualified cockpit crew that many who were left unemployed by the grounding of Go First have already been absorbed by other airlines.

The growing ambitions of Air India, IndiGo, Akasa Air, and Air India Express means that the demand for pilots has skyrocketed, so much so that it hasn’t stopped airlines from even luring some from their competition.

Air India recently announced that it has hired more than 600 pilots since April 2023. This is hardly a surprise as the airline had said earlier this year that it plans to recruit around 900 pilots by the end of 2023.

It all began last year when the carrier was privatized, and its new owners embarked on a massive fleet restructuring program. Not only were grounded planes fixed, but new ones were added, and hundreds more were ordered.

However, the availability of qualified and experienced pilots didn’t initially match its growth speed, following which it even had to hire foreign pilots for its Boeing 777 fleet. Over the last few months, it has held various recruitment drives and adequately trained existing pilots for new roles. With plans for a steady supply of new planes in the coming years, more pilots are expected to join the airline.

When Go First went down in May, among many of its employees who were looking for jobs in the industry were hundreds of pilots. Thankfully, the airline operated a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, a highly popular type with Indian airlines, and its pilots did not have much trouble being absorbed by carriers such as IndiGo, Air India, and Vistara, which also operate the A320s.

The demand was so strong that it didn’t take long for many former Go First pilots to land a job at other airlines, with many boasting even better salary packages. According to the latest reports, most of the remaining pilots with Go First are either already serving a notice period or are too inexperienced to move out.

Another aspect of this trend is airlines luring pilots from their competition. Akasa Air, which has been operating for just over a year, is currently facing a pilot crunch, with 19 of its pilots joining Air India Express.

The low-cost international airline is a subsidiary of Air India and operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, the same type operated by Akasa Air. As a result, the two airlines are locked in a tussle, with Akasa sending a legal notice to the pilots who left, alleging that they did not complete their mandatory six-month notice period.

05/09/2023 Gaurav Joshi/Simple Flying

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