Indian carriers suffering a scarcity of senior pilots

Indian airlines

The Indian civil aviation sector is dealing with a dichotomy about its pilots because it phases a restoration from the extreme disruptions to air journeys because of the pandemic.

While junior pilots have been ready on the bench for the previous two years with a letter of intent but with no wage, airways are battling a paucity of captains who can fly larger jetliners.

Several junior pilots were laid off by Gulf-based airlines and are yet to either get reinstated by those carriers or secure job offers from Indian airlines.

A bench in the aviation sector means the holding period before being allowed to fly.

Industry watchers say that the carriers had hired many junior pilots expecting fleet and route expansions but are still using their fleet to full capacity following two years of the pandemic that had severely hit the air travel industry.

“There should be around 200 such pilots who’ve a letter of intent from IndiGo. Most have been employed by the airline earlier than covid however are ready to get the decision from the airline.”

Said an industry executive.

Ironically, there is a shortage of captains because a large number of them have retired and the juniors are yet to complete their training hours to become a captain. India produces 700-1,000 industrial license pilots a year and to grow to be a captain, a junior pilot has to place in about 1,500 flying hours and clear sure checks.

“The aviation trade in India is making a considerably quick restoration and in six to 12 months, the steadiness of provide and demand can be achieved to get the pilots on deck.”

Ashwani Acharya, Business Unit Head for CAE Simulation Training Centre.

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Meanwhile, IndiGo is set to finally restore the pre-covid salaries of its pilots by November. Others like SpiceJet and GoFirst are still to announce any timeline for the restoration of pre-covid salaries.

While passenger traffic in August is around 52% more than a year earlier, it is still nearly 14% lower than the pre-pandemic levels seen in August 2019.

However, the entry of new airways reminiscent of Akasa Air and a revived Jet Airways and recruitment by Air India is about to make the market extra aggressive in phrases of pay.

ALSO READ – Akasa Air leads in pay hikes for pilots; raises salaries by 60%

Recent bulletins of fleet expansions by most airways and Akasa’s wage hike are predicted to be adopted by others.

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(With Inputs From Mint)