Hyderabad / New Delhi: Large airlines may be cutting jobs to contain losses, but the hiring outlook at regional airlines, firms running business jets and low-fare carriers remains strong as these firms gear up to recruit at least a 1,000 people in the next 15 months.
Fractional aircraft ownership companies such as Business Jets India Pvt. Ltd-run Bjets and Mumbai-based Invision Air Services Pvt. Ltd, business jets operator VistaJet Luftfahrtunternehmen GmbH-run VistaJets and regional carriers such as Chennai-based Star Aviation Pvt. Ltd are in the process of employing people to staff their new businesses.
Though the number of people needed to run a business jet is lean—consulting firm KPMG’s aviation analyst Mark Martin expects a staffing ratio of some 18 for such a plane—the number of people needed to run the new planes coming into the market could be significant given that another 100-150 planes are expected to join the Indian fleet of around 900 aircraft (commercial to private jets) by 2009.
However, a slowing economy, Martin insisted, could pull down the number of passengers travelling by air and impact expansion plans of the newcomers and, in turn, the plan for new hires.
New opportunities: A Learjet business jet at Hyderabad Air Show. Though the number of people needed to run a business jet is lean, the number needed to run the new planes coming into India could be significant, given that an additional 100-150 planes are expected by next year. Tarun Shukla / Mint
In such a scenario, “travel would be the last thing on people’s mind,” he said.
Over the past few months India’s airlines have cut several hundred jobs leading to a surplus pool in the market.
This is likely to impact existing employees by way of reduced salaries and also make it difficult for fresh entrants to get jobs in aviation.
The hiring needed for an operation such as a regional airline could be bigger. Even a five-aircraft operation in the first year for an entrant such as Star Aviation may need about 500-700 people including engineers, pilots, crew and ground staff, says company executives.
“Intially Indian Airlines, Air India were the first airlines in the country, so when Jet started a lot of employees were ex-AI (or) IA. Now considering what’s happening, these people will be looking for alternative jobs,” said Ira Trivedi, VistaJet representative in India, who is hiring a dozen people to set up offices here, adding to the company’s list of nine other cities. “I have seen there is a need for trained qualified people with the right kind of attitude. We would need the whole gamut,” she said.
The Swiss privately held VistaJet offers business jets on rent for various time periods and plans to start by offering services to several Indian software firms who have a need for such aircraft for roadshows in West Asia and other markets.
A Bjets pilot, who wished to remain annynomous, said the salaries at charter companies are comparable to airlines given that business jets come with a high cost, even though wages can be low during training.
VistaJet’s Learjet 60 XR, for example, can cost $7,300 or at least Rs350,500 for a 25-hour service.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA, which is training several people from India in its Singapore training centre, expects several jobs to be generated from the planes it will be supplying to Indian buyers soon.
Besides five Embraer jets to Star Aviation starting March, the manufacturer will supply 20 jets booked by Invision Air next year.
“The pilot market has been overheated over the last three-four years. India is a good example. Pilots have been brought over for a very high price which meant general people started to see it as a good career option. What we see now is a slowdown,” said Orlando J.F. Neto, Embraer’s managing director for Asia Pacific. “I would think the excess people (from the airlines) would get absorbed in other areas,” he said.
The first delivery to Star Aviation is slated for March.
Commercial airlines, too, see their hiring freeze easing in some months. SpiceJet Ltd, for example, expects to have openings for at least 20 co-pilots by early half of next year, according to J.S. Dhillon, low-cost carrier SpiceJet’s executive vice-president of flight operations.
Similarly, IndiGo, a service run by Interglobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd, plans to hire around 300 people including cockpit crew, pilots and customer care executives for the seven planes it inducts between now and next year.
“The growth and requirement by and large will remain the same, other than areas where we can get advantages of scale,” IndiGo’s president Aditya Ghosh said. “Even today we are running interviews across the country (for customer care executives).”