3 min read.Updated: 10 Oct 2021, 10:18 AM ISTLivemint
On September 3, a section of employees of SpiceJet went on a short strike at the Delhi airport over issues related to reduced salaries and their irregular disbursement
Last month, the budget carrier introduced a new 'interim fixed salary system' for captains and first officers
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SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh has that all issues related to salaries have been resolved and employees were getting paid on time. In an interview with PTI, Singh added that the court cases filed by aircraft lessors don't help anyone, and all disputes eventually end in settlement.
On September 3, a section of employees of SpiceJet went on a short strike at the Delhi airport over issues related to reduced salaries and their irregular disbursement.
Singh said that SpiceJet has done well "to stay afloat in this crisis". "We have built a new cargo business. We are using that cargo business to reduce the parent's liabilities by a significant amount," the businessman told the agency.
Last month, the budget carrier introduced a new "interim fixed salary system" for captains and first officers. The objectives of the new system, it said, are having a pay structure that reflects fixed salary components and other relevant components. It will also enable payment of a fixed minimum salary to all available pilots and those who fly more than the stipulated minimum hours will be paid overtime, the airline said.
However, some pilots contested the assurance given by SpiceJet and claimed "stress" due to the continued reduction in their salaries implemented in April last year.
The pilots claimed that they were being paid a third or a half of their pre-COVID-19 salaries despite the company achieving an occupancy rate of over 85% on passenger flights.
Singh said: "All salary issues have been resolved. Salaries are being paid on time and in full. You know, this issue, the media has been raising occasionally but every airline around the world has been challenged on salaries, on payments and so on. And all these issues have always been settled by negotiations."
On the Goshawk case, Singh stated: "Goshawk has gone to court against most of the airlines around the world. So, we will try and find a settlement with Goshawk as well as the other lessors. All these disputes eventually end in settlements."
This year, SpiceJet entered into a settlement with CDB Aviation and Avolon, two major lessors of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, during the August-September period this year.
India's aviation regulator DGCA lifted the ban on Max on August 26, 2021. SpiceJet's fleet has 13 Max aircraft.
"We are working with the lessors. We are trying to ensure that all the commercial arrangements are in place. But we hope that certainly, through the month of October, and by middle November, we should have most of the Max aircraft flying," Singh added.
Max was banned in most of the countries, including in India, in March 2019 after two of them crashed between October 2018 and March 2019, killing a total of 346 passengers.
Speaking on Covid-19 impact on airlines, Singh said, "The airlines have suffered extensive losses...This has been what everybody has been calling an apocalyptic moment for airlines". He said the airports should refrain from recovering all their lost revenue from the airlines.
"We need to find a solution where the pain of COVID-19 is shared by all the players in the sector and those that have monopoly positions should not use those monopolies to shift all the pain to the airlines," Singh said.
However, he agreed that the situation is improving amid the decline in Covid-19 cases in the country. "Traffic is picking up. On average, we (airlines in India) are now carrying 250,000 passengers a day, which is approximately 60 % of where we were before COVID-19. So, definitely, there are signs of improvement and we are also hoping that the government will use this crisis to resolve some of the issues that the Indian carriers have faced for several years," he added.
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