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Flight schedule to normalise in 2-3 days: Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan

According to sources, he thanked the pilots for accepting the new salary structure proposed as part of Vistara's ongoing merger with Air India

Vinod Kannan, CEO, Vistara

Vinod Kannan, CEO, Vistara

Deepak Patel New Delhi

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High pilot utilisation, combined with a portion of pilots taking sick leave at the end of March has resulted in the cancellations during the last couple of days, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vistara, Vinod Kannan, said during a meeting with the pilots on Wednesday.

According to sources, he thanked the pilots for accepting the new salary structure proposed as part of Vistara's ongoing merger with Air India. He assured them of numerous opportunities for growth and earning potential within the current airline and the combined entity, urging them not to worry. 

Kannan said the flight schedule is expected to normalise within the next 2-3 days.
On Monday and Tuesday, Vistara was compelled to cancel over 100 flights, allegedly due to a specific group of pilots taking sick leave at the end of March to indicate their dissatisfaction with the new salary structure. 

On Wednesday, the airline cancelled approximately 25 flights. It typically operates about 350 flights daily. 

According to sources, Kannan said that pilot utilisation, while within the permissible limits of flight duty time limitations (FDTL) regulations, was quite high, leaving minimal buffer space for the airline.

A certain group of pilots went on sick leave at the end of March as the financial year was ending and they wanted to utilise their pending leaves. These factors disrupted the flight schedule, he explained.

 Kannan assured the pilots that their rostering system will be overhauled so they get more rest time and the airline will get more buffer space so that if there is a similar situation in future, the carrier does not have to cancel flights. He said the changes in the rostering system will be fully visible by May.

He said the airline will carefully reduce its flight network to maintain lower levels of pilot utilization, ensuring pilots' earnings, significantly based on their flight hours, remain unaffected while providing the airline with the necessary bandwidth to prevent future disruptions.

Kannan noted that despite the public perception that pilots have thrown a tantrum, resulting in flight cancellations, he knows this is not the case. He thanked the pilots for accepting the new salary structure.

As part of the new salary structure, Vistara pilots will receive a fixed salary for 40 hours of flying time instead of the current 70 hours. Additionally, they will be compensated for extra flying hours and will earn an additional amount as a reward based on their years of service with the airline.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) gave its approval to the merger of Vistara and Air India in March this year. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the merger between the airlines in September 2023.

Vistara is anticipating an operational merger with Air India by mid-2025, in addition to its expectations of receiving legal approvals for it by the middle of the current calendar year, Kannan had said at a press briefing in January.

What he said
> High pilot utilisation and March-end pilot leave led to flight cancellations
> The airline will enhance its rostering system, with changes visible by May
> The airline will carefully scale back its flight network to ensure optimal pilot utilisation

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First Published: Apr 03 2024 | 9:32 PM IST

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