Jet to decide soon on expat pilots issue: CEO

Jet to decide soon on expat pilots issue: CEO

Mumbai: Faced with the demand by Indian pilots of Jet Airways for removal of all expatriate pilots of the airline, the company’s management, which has proposed salary cut for most of its employees, on Monday said it would take a decision soon on the issue.

Jet Airways’ chief executive officer Wolfgang Proch-Schaeur said the management had yet not taken any decision on the issue.

“We are still deliberating and have not yet taken any decision on the matter. But a decision (on reducing the mumber of expat pilots) is expected soon," he said.

The airline is understood to have mooted a proposal whereby the number of expat pilots would be reduced by 15% as a cost-pruning measure following a demand by Indian pilots.

Of the total 1,000-odd pilots, the carrier has over 200 expat pilots, deployed especially on its wide-body aircraft fleet.

The Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP), a pilots body of Jet Airways, is understood to have conveyed to the Jet management that all expat pilots should be removed.

“We will not settle for less...all the expat pilots must go (from the airline)," a senior Jet Airways pilot said on condition of strict anonymity.

“We are ready to co-operate with the company and willing to negotiate on salary cut proposals but the management (of Jet Airways) should first remove the expat pilots," he said.

The Indian pilots’ contention is that expat pilots earn 40-50% more than them and hence cost-cutting must begin with them.

“If the company is talking about pruning costs, it should start from these (expat) pilots whose salary packages are 40-50% more than the domestic pilots," he said.

Faced with mounting losses and the severe downturn in several major global economies, Jet’s management has initiated a number of cost-cutting measures including a proposed pay cut across the board to keep the airline afloat.

Jet Airways’ Chairman, Naresh Goyal, had on 23 November held a meeting of the airline’s pilots, engineers and other staff to discuss the issue.

While the engineers and commercial staff are understood to have agreed to the proposed pay-cut, pilots had refused to toe the line, saying there were other ways and means to prune costs, foremost among them being removal of expat pilots with their high salaries.