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NEW DELHI : India’s aviation industry may have experienced some post-pandemic turbulence, but come 2022, the launch of two new airlines is likely to bring cheer with a surge in demand for flight crew, especially senior pilots.

For the first time in many years, the industry is set to see unprecedented demand, which is likely to result in a major talent churn, at least two pilots with major domestic no-frills carriers said, requesting anonymity.

Billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air has started approaching senior pilots, including captains, of major domestic airlines and is offering attractive salaries and allowances, they added.

The ultra-low-cost carrier has placed orders for 72 Boeing 737Max aircraft. It hopes to get delivery of the first batch of aircraft in 2022.

Domestic airlines like SpiceJet and Air India Express operate Boeing 737 planes. So, pilots operating Boeing 737 fleet with the airlines are best suited for Akasa, said one of the two pilots.

Many pilots faced difficult times during the coronavirus pandemic, with airlines resorting to salary and allowance cuts to reduce costs following the sharp decline in passenger traffic due to the nationwide lockdown.

“The entry of Jet Airways 2.0 and Akasa is good news for pilots who have been waiting for a long time. The salary and allowances offered by the new airlines will definitely raise industry standards as the incumbents will be forced to match the offers to retain talent," he added.

“Overall, there will be more jobs, and that is good news. As it is, the pandemic resulted in lots of hardships, including job losses for pilots," he said.

The new promoters of Jet Airways (India) Ltd, a consortium comprising British investor Kalrock Capital Management and UAE-based entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan, hopes to restart operations in early 2022 with six narrow-body planes after the revalidation process of its air operator permit is complete.

Full-service carrier Jet Airways, which was grounded more than two years ago because of unpaid dues, plans to have a fleet of more than 50 aircraft within three years.

The promoters of Jet Airways 2.0 are in talks with Boeing and Airbus for the planes.

According to industry experts, airlines following the no-frills model traditionally work with a crew set ratio of 5:5 that is, 11-12 pilots per aircraft, while full-service carriers like Jet also follows a similar ratio for pilots, depending on the business model.

“Demand is especially high for ‘Commanders on Type’, or captains who have flown a particular type of aircraft (such as Boeing 737 or Airbus A320)," said Satyendra Pandey, managing partner of AT-TV, an aviation advisory firm.

“The market is also taking a turn where it’s not just the pay scale that matters, but also other aspects such as growth prospects, company culture and location. Airlines will have to incorporate this in their quest to stay competitive," he added.

Currently, India has about 17,726 registered pilots, V.K. Singh, minister of state in the ministry of civil aviation, had recently informed Parliament.

Emailed queries sent to a spokesperson of Akasa Air and Murarilal Jalan did not elicit a response till press time.

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