COVID-19: After GoAir fires expat pilots, IndiGo warns of tough decisions

IndiGo's flight operations head says economic environment had worsened significantly

goair-indigo Representational image

The economic environment in the aviation sector has deteriorated significantly and it has become necessary to initiate some tough decisions over the next few days and weeks, IndiGo's flight operations chief Ashim Mitra told pilots in an email on Thursday morning.

With countries sealing their borders partially or fully across the world due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the aviation sector has been hit extremely hard as most airlines globally have drastically curtailed their flight operations.

Mitra stated in his email, "Economic environment has deteriorated significantly and no airline is insulated from this severe downturn."

"It has become a necessity to initiate some tough calls and we are working on a string of measures that will be shared and implemented over the next few days and weeks," Mitra said.

Asking the pilots to not believe any hearsay, Mitra added that the airline will keep them updated.

"Please keep taking all the precautions against COVID-19 and we shall overcome any challenge...," he said.

GoAir cuts staff

GoAir on Wednesday said it has terminated contracts of expatriate pilots amid curtailed operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing "unprecedented" decline in air travel, the budget carrier, on Tuesday, announced suspension of international operations and offering of leave without pay programme for its staff on a rotational basis.

"In view of the current situation, GoAir has been forced to terminate the contracts of expat pilots, which is in line with the reduced international capacity," a GoAir spokesperson said in a statement to PTI.

However, the spokesperson did not respond to a query on the number of expat pilots whose contracts have been terminated.

According to an airline source, it has around 80 expatriate pilots.

"... GoAir is forced to temporarily suspend all its international operations (Dammam, Kuwait, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bangkok, Phuket and Male) starting March 17 until April 15. No sooner the situation improves, GoAir will reinstate these flights and operate at the earliest opportunity," the statement said.

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