New Delhi: In a key rule change that will affect some 4,000 pilots in India, the country’s aviation regulator has said that pilots employed at local airline firms do not need to serve a mandatory six-month notice period between jobs if conditions in their job contracts change.
No-objection: DGCA says pilots need not serve the mandatory six-month notice period if airlines make changes in their service conditions. Hemant Mishra / Mint
The rule, which allowed pilots to change jobs only after a minimum half year gap, made it difficult for airline companies to hire from one another. On completion of six months, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA, would issue a no-objection certificate that would allow the pilot to take a new job.
However, at a time pilots are being laid off or having their salaries reduced, DGCA earlier this week changed this rule in response to complaints from a dozen pilots employed at Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.
An industry executive said DGCA has taken a view that if the airline makes changes in a pilot’s service conditions as per the original hiring contract, then the pilot is exempt from the six-month rule. This executive requested anonymity and asked his employer not be named.
The rule, which was part of what is called Civil Aviation Regulations, 2005, was brought in at a time of airline boom in India. “Airlines were stealing pilots so DGCA had said that you have to give six months notice,” an executive at SpiceJet Ltd said, who asked not to be quoted because he is not authorised to speak with the media. The only way the rule could be bypassed was if an airline allowed such a relaxation to the pilot, which often was not granted.
A civil aviation ministry official, who also asked not to be identified, confirmed that “an amendement” has been made but could not provide further details. DGCA officials were not available for comment.
Many among the dozen Kingfisher Airlines’ pilots are likely to join Interglobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd-run Indigo, the industry executive quoted earlier said. The airline is adding another four aircraft to its fleet of 20 this calendar year.
Kingfisher Airlines, which is reeling under a financial crunch resulting in non-payment of dues owed to several of its vendors, including oil firms, has been removing capacity from the market by returning aircraft and had restructured salaries of its employees to tide over the downturn.