IndiGo staff resent offers for Jet Airways pilots; SpiceJet holds interviews

Jet Airways IndiGo SpiceJet Representational image

The harried pilots of Jet Airways, which is on the brink of shutting down operations, have now approached SpiceJet seeking employment.

Jet Airways pilots had earlier been wooed by IndiGo with compensation for their pending salaries and other benefits, leading to murmurs of protest from its own pilots. Jet Airways, the largest airline in India, has been facing acute shortage of cockpit crew, leading to cancellation of hundreds of its flights last month.

Jet Airways pilots, along with engineers and senior management, have not been paid for more than three months now as the airline is facing its worst existential crisis since its inception a quarter of a century ago. Gurugram-based SpiceJet, which had all its 12 Boeing 737 MAX planes grounded following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane early this month, is looking to hire pilots for its expansion plans, and conducted walk-in interviews on Wednesday.

"As many as 260 Jet pilots, including 150 captains, appeared for the interviews in Mumbai today [Wednesday]," a SpiceJet source said.

Unlike IndiGo, which owns a fleet predominantly consisting of Airbus A320s, SpiceJet has Boeing 737s in the fleet. The majority of Jet Airways pilots are trained and type-rated for Boeing planes, the source said.

IndiGo is offering jobs to Jet Airways pilots, along with compensation for overdue salaries from the full-service airline. It can be noted that pilots at full-service carriers get higher pay and other benefits.

With no assurance on the payment of their pending salaries, Jet Airways pilots had on Tuesday warned that they would stop flying from April 1 if the management failed to provide clarity on the revival plan along with a deadline to clear their salary dues by March 31.

According to IndiGo, all job offers are in line with its current terms and conditions. But its own pilots have termed the move to hire Jet Airways pilots as an "injustice" and "unacceptable". "They are taking us lightly. Offer to Jet Airways pilots is sheer injustice to us as they're being offered a two-month bonus along with same-designation salary," argued an IndiGo source.

Moreover, they have also been allowed to choose their operational base, which is unacceptable to the IndiGo pilots, the source added. Questions sent to IndiGo chief operating officer Wolfgang Prock-Schauer and also to its spokesperson did not elicit any response.

"The management is saying it is not bonus but it is compensation for their (Jet Airways pilots) delayed salaries. Are we also not entitled to similar bonuses?" the source at IndiGo asked.

“Also, Jet Airways pilots are joining with designation protection. So, basically if a non-type-rated examiner is joining us, she/he will be joining with a pay protection of the IndiGo examiner,” pointed out the source.

Alleging that the IndiGo pilots have not been given a hike since the last three-four years, the source also pointed out that after joining, the Jet Airways pilots will again get a hike when IndiGo revises the salaries of its existing pilots.