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SpiceJet plans new flights; pilot pay up at Rs 7.5 lakh per month

SpiceJet was impacted by the grounding of the entire Boeing 737 Max aircraft fleet by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for over two years

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh

Aneesh Phadnis Mumbai

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SpiceJet is planning to revive grounded aircraft and launch flights on new routes, Chairman Ajay Singh told employees in an email on the airline’s 18th anniversary on Tuesday. The airline also hiked the salary for its captains to Rs 7.5 lakh per month for 75 hours of flying, and introduced a tenure-linked loyalty reward for them.

Salaries of trainers and first officers have also been increased commensurately.

SpiceJet is overcoming its “toughest challenges” and has a new plan for growth, said Singh.

Despite this optimism, SpiceJet’s stock tumbled nearly 14 per cent to Rs 24.16 (close) on the BSE on Tuesday, falling to its 52-week low during intra-day trade, as investors continued to desert the counter. Singh took charge of the airline in 2015 and has steered it during crises.

The airline is targeting the return of four of its grounded aircraft — two Boeing 737s and two Q400s — by June 15. More planes will resume operations in the coming weeks. SpiceJet plans to start new services, including two international UDAN flights on the Agartala-Chattogram (Bangladesh)-Agartala and Imphal-Mandalay (Myanmar)-Imphal sectors by June-end.

“The recent hive-off of SpiceXpress into a separate entity is a defining milestone in our journey. There is large investor interest in our logistics business. Leading UK-based international conglomerate SRAM & MRAM Group already committed a $100-million investment in SpiceXpress,” Singh said in his email.

The airline has been dealing with a shortage of funds, leading to delays in payment of dues to entities, such as aircraft lessors.

He said, “We have initiated the process of reviving our grounded planes with the $50 million fund received from the ECLGS scheme and internal cash accruals. We will soon be launching new flights on new and exciting routes.”

“It’s in our DNA to never give up. In the most testing times, SpiceJet has surprised the world with its tenacity and courage, and we will do it again,” said Singh.

“It was our karma to fight and persevere. And, to never give up. We have started to emerge again from the toughest of challenges and have a new plan for great growth and great success,” he added.

SpiceJet was impacted by the grounding of the entire Boeing 737 Max aircraft fleet by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for over two years. 

In March, Singh had described the grounding as a bigger disaster for the carrier than Covid.

On March 13, 2019, all Max planes were grounded in India by the DGCA after two of them crashed abroad within a span of six months. This suspension was lifted on August 26, 2021, after Boeing made necessary rectifications in the aircraft.

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

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First Published: May 23 2023 | 3:34 PM IST

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