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Private carrier Jet Airways has phased out 30 expatriate pilots since April this year after its domestic pilots union National Aviator's Guild (NAG) sought the removal of all such "expensive" pilots. The Naresh Goyal-promoted full-service carrier, which is partly owned by Gulf airline Etihad, has 54 overseas commanders still working with it. They too would be done away with over a period of time, a source privy to the development said. The city-headquartered airline currently has over 1,400 pilots on its rolls. The overseas pilots in Jet Airways command its Boeing 737 and ATR fleet. The NAG had in April this year issued a directive to around its 1,000 members not to fly with the expatriate commanders after one of the foreign pilots allegedly assaulted a trainer in Bengaluru. The guild had also accused the management of treating its domestic pilots in a "step-motherly" manner. However, the boycott call was later withdrawn. "Jet Airways has handed over pink slips to some 40 expat pilots in the last more than six months.
However, 10 of them have been hired again. So, in all, 30 foreign pilots have already been sent back home till now. But we want all these expensive pilots to be done away with," the source told PTI. The airline plans not to renew the service contracts of some more expat pilots, of the 54 still left with it, within this fiscal, the source said, adding, the carrier has already planned the removal of other such pilots as well over a period of time. In response to an e-mail query from PTI on the issue, a Jet Airways spokesperson said that the airline has only a "small percentage" of expatriates, which is in line with the DGCA norms for FATA (Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorisation), but did not comment on the removal of expat pilots. "Today Jet Airways has an overwhelming majority of Indian pilots with only a small percentage of expatriates, which is in-line with DGCA guidelines on FATA, as per which, all airlines are expected to duly justify expatriates recruitment as well have a nationalisation plan," the spokesperson said. Jet Airways has been following a robust training and indigenisation programme, the spokesperson said, adding it is "committed to seeing a larger induction of Indian pilots." Demanding the exit of all expatriate pilots, the guild had, in a terse communication to Jet Airways management in April, said, "The management has for a very long time treated the Indian employees, including the pilots, in a step motherly manner and has disregarded the legitimate expectations of its employee to be treated fairly, reasonably and in a just manner.