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SpiceJet sends 80 pilots on leave without pay for three mths to prune costs

Loss making airline is currently operating less than half its flights, following a July 27 DGCA order brought on by a spate of incidents

SpiceJet | Aviation sector | Aviation industry

Deepak Patel 

While the airline has 90-odd planes in its fleet, it is currently using around 50 planes daily to operate flights

has sent about 80 on leave without pay for three months to rationalise its costs, the loss-making airline said.

The airline has been reporting losses for the past four years and is operating less than 50 per cent flights, following the July 27 order of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the wake of mishaps.

While the airline has 90-odd planes in its fleet, it is using around 50 a day to operate flights.

Sources said the airline has sent around 40 B737 aircraft and another 40 Q400 aircraft on leave without pay for three months.

In a statement, said it had in 2019 inducted more than 30 aircraft following the grounding of the B737 MAX aircraft. “The airline had continued with its planned pilot induction programme with the hope that the MAX would be back in service soon. However, the prolonged grounding of the MAX fleet resulted in a large number of excess pilots at SpiceJet,” it noted.

In a temporary measure to rationalise cost, the airline has decided to place certain pilots on leave without pay for a period of three months, it mentioned.

“This measure — in line with SpiceJet’s policy of not retrenching any employee which the airline steadfastly followed even during the peak of the Covid pandemic — will help rationalise the pilot strength vis-à-vis aircraft fleet,” it said.

The financially beleaguered airline said it will induct more MAX aircraft shortly and these pilots will be back in service as the induction begins.

“During the LWP (leave without pay) period, pilots will remain eligible for all other employee benefits as applicable i.e. all opted insurance benefits and employee leave travel,” said.

Even after placing certain pilots on leave without pay, SpiceJet said it will have sufficient numbers of pilots to operate its full schedule as and when the restriction on flights is lifted.

SpiceJet incurred net losses of Rs 316 crore, Rs 934 crore, Rs 998 crore and Rs 1,725 crore in FY19, FY20, FY21 and FY22, respectively.

The carrier's Chairman and Managing Director, Ajay Singh, had on August 31 this year said the airline will engage with investment bankers to raise up to $200 million.

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First Published: Tue, September 20 2022. 16:57 IST