Indian airlines on expansion spree, boom time for pilots

IndiGo, which has launched its international operations, has indicated it would require about 300 extra pilots by end of 2012 to man the new aircraft.

Bleak business is no bar for Indian commercial airlines, which are giving wings to their domestic and international expansion plans and briskly hiring pilots.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo Airlines, which launched its international operations on September 1, said it would add as many as 20 aircraft by 2012.

SPECIAL: Indian low-cost carriers eye international skies

Another low-cost carrier, SpiceJet, which is expanding its regional operations, has placed orders for 15 Bombardier Q400s to be delivered by June 2012. The carrier, which received the delivery of its first Bombardier Q400 aircraft last month has hired 15 foreign (expatriate) pilots to operate these aircraft.

With IndiGo and SpiceJet adding aircraft, there is huge demand for trained pilots. IndiGo, which has launched its international operations, has indicated it would require about 300 extra pilots by end of 2012 to man the new aircraft.

SpiceJet, which operates six international flights out of its 200 daily flights, plans to expand its overseas network and has applied for several international routes.

  • IndiGo, which launched its int'l ops on Sept 1, will add 20 aircraft by 2012
  • IndiGo has indicated it would need about 300 extra pilots by 2012-end
  • SpiceJet, which is expanding its regional ops, hired 15 expat pilots last month
  • It has ordered 15 Bombardier Q400s & plans to expand its int'l network
  • AI will hire pilots & 1,000 new cabin members for its Boeing Dreamliners
  • Jet Airways will hire pilots for its regional short-haul services
Not to be left far behind, national carrier Air India (AI) also plans to hire pilots for its Boeing Dreamliners, which it expects to receive early next year. The airline expects to receive the first batch of the 27 Boeing Dreamliner 787s by November-end.

"The demand to hire more pilots has gone up with the addition of more planes by IndiGo, SpiceJet and other Indian carriers that will continue from now. With each aircraft, you require at least six to seven pilots for sustaining the operations," said Ankur Bhatia, executive director (ED) of Bird Group, a travel technology solutions conglomerate.

SPECIAL: Inside Boeing Dreamliner

In a bid to change its negative image, ailing national carrier AI is also expected to hire around 1,000 new cabin members for its B777 and B787 Dreamliners that will fly on international routes.

The state-of-the-art Dreamliners will be part of AI's turnaround plan and the airline hopes to turn its operations profitable through Dreamliner's international operations.

Lucrative international routes have helped Indian carriers offset their loss-making domestic operations.

According to an AI official, the airline's existing crew would not be used for the Dreamliners. However, delay in the delivery of aircraft has affected AI's plans.

AI has recently suffered a staff drain as some of its senior and mid-level pilots left to join Emirates and other foreign airlines as AI's poor financial health continued and the carrier was unable to pay wages for months. Kingfisher Airlines, too, lost a few pilots to other foreign operators.

Jet Airways, India's biggest private carrier by market share, is also looking to hire pilots for its Boeing aircraft as well as its turboprop plane ATRs for its regional short-haul services.

Jet plans to launch more lowfare flights on shorter international routes to take on rivals, such as IndiGo and SpiceJet.

"We will use small, narrow-bodied aircraft for low-fare routes", says Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer, Jet Airways.

International airlines are keeping pace with their Indian counterparts, too. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, which plans to expand its Indian operations and fly to more destinations in the subcontinent, will also open up hiring for pilots.

Courtesy: Mail Today