Jet Airways (India) Ltd has asked as many as 200 of its junior pilots to go on unpaid leave for 10 days a month, resulting in a 30% reduction in their salaries, as the airline seeks to cut costs amid weaker demand for travel to Gulf countries, three people familiar with the development said, requesting anonymity.

The airline has made some interim arrangements to balance its cost structure, a spokesperson for Jet Airways said in an emailed response to a query. In a 15 July letter addressed to a first officer (junior pilot), a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint, the airline said the company, over the past few months “has been intensely focussed on fleet and network rationalisation and working on cost efficiencies."

As part of the exercise, it had to revisit its manpower requirements, it said. In the letter, Jet said it is offering “lifestyle work pattern" which includes 10 days block off, meaning a pilot has to take 10 days off each month “with the appropriate remuneration" resulting in a 30% cut as an interim measure to help the company cut costs. If the “terms are not acceptable" and they wish to seek alternative opportunities, they will need to revert by 31 July, it added.

“Jet continues to remain committed to all its employees which includes crew members and trainees, who are essentially a part of the Jet family," the company spokesperson in the emailed response. The spokesperson added that due to certain developments in the market, including in the Gulf region, as well as its continued efforts to enhance internal efficiencies, “has resulted in the review of our network, fleet and crew utilisation."

“Consequently, the company has made interim alignments to its crew work patterns, which will be reviewed in future, in line with network growth."

The Naresh Goyal-controlled airline in which Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways PJSC owns a stake has been facing intense cost pressures amid heightening competition, and a slowdown in the Gulf region.

In the fourth quarter ended 31 March, the airline reported a 91% decline in profit as higher revenue was more than offset by costlier fuel, lower airfares and weak demand from the Gulf region, a key market. To contain costs, the airline is also looking to sub-lease its smaller aircraft to a regional airline as they do not align with Jet’s premium push, reported on 19 July. The Jet spokesperson cited earlier declined to comment on the matter.

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