Air India hooked 200 Go First pilots before insolvency filing

The pilots are being roped in at the same salary as other Air India pilots with similar work experience. Mint
The pilots are being roped in at the same salary as other Air India pilots with similar work experience. Mint


IndiGo, Akasa also vie to snap up Go First pilots stranded after airline’s NCLT filing

Air India’s ‘November Oscar Whiskey’ ad led to a rush in job applications by Go First pilots with more than 200 pilots of the bankrupt budget airline receiving employment offers.

Despite this, the recruitment battle is heating up as Air India is having to compete with the likes of IndiGo and Akasa Air who are also vying for the same pool of 700 Go First pilots.

“More than 200 offers were made in the first three days of the recruitment drive. The pilots are being roped in at the same salary as other Air India pilots with similar work experience. This also works for the Tata-owned airline, since they continue to have a large chunk of pilots who have refused to sign the new compensation contract," a senior airline executive aware of the development said, seeking anonymity.

On Wednesday, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted Go First’s plea seeking voluntary insolvency. The move will prompt a further exodus of both pilots and cabin crew, who would knock at the doors of rivals.

According to executives aware of the talent war in the aviation sector, the Wadia Group-owned airline is refusing to give a no-objection clearance to pilots and coaxing them to stay back, which makes it a bit difficult for its staff, as protocol requires pilots to take NOC before joining another airline.

Adding to the uncertainties around Go First’s future, its parent Go Airlines (India) Ltd has fallen behind on salary payments, with its 5,000 employees receiving compensations for March only at the end of April.

Pilots and cabin crew are in short supply in India’s aviation business, and airlines need talent urgently for fleet expansion.

Go First had a 6.9% share of the domestic aviation market, and is the second airline in five years to file for insolvency after Jet Airways.

“Airline officials were asking pilots to reconsider their plans to exit the airline and are asking them to wait 1-2 months before taking such a step. Most pilots are already serious about leaving the company as soon as they get good offers as April salaries still haven’t come and they have monthly dues and family expenses to take care of," a pilot associated with Go First said, requesting anonymity.

On Wednesday, the principal bench of the NCLT admitted Go First’s plea for insolvency, triggering an immediate moratorium, and prohibiting the sale of assets including aircraft and property. Besides, this restricts the lessors from deregistering over 40 aircraft, a key asset for the airline, which suspended operations on 2 May due to the faulty engines supplied by US’s Pratt and Whitney.

“IndiGo has approached several Go First pilots as the airlines share the same aircraft type—the A320 family airplane. While the NCLT order of 10 May has told the resolution professional to not resort to retrenchment of employees during the resolution period, there is no official communication from the airline to the pilots about the possible timeline for flight resumption. This has accelerated the exit process," another airline executive said, also seeking anonymity.

Queries sent to IndiGo, Air India, Go First and Akasa Air remained unanswered until press time.

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