Low-cost airline SpiceJet has reportedly asked about 80 pilots to go on unpaid leave as the airline has a surplus of pilots.
About 40 pilots from the Boeing 737 fleet and another 40 from the Q400 fleet that the airline operates on regional routes will be sent on unpaid leave for three months. These pilots will be recalled gradually as the airline deploys new aircraft to its fleet. From December, it plans to add seven new Boeing 737 Max. The airline is also considering leasing aircraft with crew until a new aircraft arrives. However, chartered aircraft will not require additional pilots because they are operated by the charter airline’s crew, the report said. “At the start of 2021, the airline had around 95 aircraft. But the fleet is now limited to 50 aircraft as the airline has returned many aircraft back to lessors, while some are out of service due to lack of spare parts and maintenance issues. There is no point in having redundant pilots and creating costs for the company. Pilots will be called back as new aircraft join,” ET said, citing a person familiar with the development.
SpiceJet is returning the older 737 aircraft it had inducted from Jet Airways, while the lessors have withdrawn around four aircraft. According to the report, about 10 of its Q400 aircraft are grounded due to a lack of spare parts. Cost rationalization in the form of unpaid time off will also allow the airline to increase the salaries of existing pilots, according to the source. SpiceJet faces stiff competition from foreign airlines and domestic airlines such as Akasa Air, which are aggressively expanding.
Newly launched Akasa Air recently increased pilot salaries by an average of 60 percent as it prepares to deploy 13 more aircraft in the next five months. SpiceJet has reduced the salary of pilots and currently most of them are getting their salary almost 15 days late.