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Jet Airways is one of the better paymasters in the industry. However, the recent salary delays have forced many pilots to explore job opportunities with other airlines. (Photo: Reuters)
Jet Airways is one of the better paymasters in the industry. However, the recent salary delays have forced many pilots to explore job opportunities with other airlines. (Photo: Reuters)

IndiGo lures Jet Airways’ pilots with better compensation

  • IndiGo is offering compensation for overdue salaries, on-the-spot job offers to senior Jet Airways pilots
  • Indigo will hire 120 expatriate pilots by June 2019, taking their total number to 160 

MUMBAI : Several pilots made their way to a five-star hotel in Mumbai’s western suburb last Friday, where India’s biggest airline, IndiGo, held a recruitment drive for senior pilots, according to two pilots who attended the event.

The event also saw a large representation from cash-strapped Jet Airways (India) Ltd where senior workers are facing a prolonged delay in salaries and an uncertain future.

IndiGo, one of Airbus SE’s largest customers globally, will soon start its maiden flight to Europe (Istanbul). It is also expanding fast, adding at least one aircraft per week, and is therefore in need of senior pilots.

To attract talent, the Gurugram-based airline has offered compensation for overdue salaries to senior pilots, especially to those belonging to Jet Airways. IndiGo held a similar recruitment drive in New Delhi last week, which also saw a good turnout.

The chosen candidates were given on-the-spot offers to work with India’s largest domestic airline by market share, in addition to reassurances that their salaries will be credited on time, one of the pilots cited above said.

“The offers made by IndiGo is quite good, and include various compensation for overdue salaries (up to two to three months of basic salary) on joining the airline," said a senior pilot, who flies Airbus planes with Jet Airways.

Another pilot, who has more than five years of experience with Jet Airways, said several of his peers like him attended the event to simply explore the available options.

“Jet Airways is one of the better paymasters in the industry. However, the recent salary delays have forced many pilots to dip into their savings. So, when an opportunity like this presents, there’s no harm in checking out offers from other airlines (like IndiGo)," said the pilot.

A spokesperson for IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, did not immediately comment on the recruitment events.

Senior pilots command strong demand across airlines, but more so among no-frills carriers such as IndiGo which has a fleet of 213 planes, including Airbus A320neo and ATR aircraft. IndiGo has also lined aggressive expansion plans with pending orders for more than 400 A320neo and A321neo jets.

The financial crisis at Jet Airways could not have come at a better time for IndiGo, which operates about 1,300 daily flights on domestic and international routes. The carrier had in February cancelled several flights due to pilot shortages and bad weather.

The airline is expected to add about 62 planes this financial year, and at least 40 more next year.

With the robust aircraft additions, maintaining a good ratio of pilots against aircraft is always a challenge, an IndiGo official said previously. “But, we are up for the challenge and are taking steps to address the issue," the official said.

IndiGo has more than 3,100 pilots, including trainees. The ratio of captains per aircraft is 6.65.

To tackle the pilot shortage issue, IndiGo said in February that it will also hire 120 expat pilots by June, taking the total number to 160.

Not all pilots are, however, enthused by IndiGo’s latest hiring plans especially those working at full-service carriers. Some of the perks provided by full-service carriers to their crew including hotels for overnight hauls, transport and layover allowances, especially for pilots flying wide-body aircraft on international routes, are better than budget airlines. “No-frills carriers also make their pilots work way lot more than full- service carriers," said a pilot with national carrier Air India.

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