India's leading carriers, Air India
, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines
(KFA) are witnessing massive exodus of pilots to low-cost domestic airlines like IndiGo as well as foreign carriers due to delayed salaries.
Airline sources said that around 40 pilots of national carrier Air India have quit in past few months while 62 have quit KFA and approximately 50 from Jet Airways to join IndiGo as well as other foreign airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Silk Air among others. Recently, about 20 KFA pilots joined rival IndiGo.
While in the case of Air India, the reason for the exodus has been due to delayed salaries for over a year, around 18,000 employees of Jet and KFA have not received salaries for two months-a sign of deepening crisis in the aviation sector.
Jet Airways has close to 950 pilots while KFA and Air India have around 800 and 850 pilots respectively.
Employees of Jet Airways have not been paid for January. Jet Airways has a debt of Rs 14,000 crore and has suffered losses quarter-on-quarter in the current financial year. For the third quarter, Jet posted a loss of over Rs 101 crore, which was followed by the worst-ever second quarter results.
KFA delayed payment of December salaries citing again "large unanticipated payments". The airline, which is struggling to stay afloat after running up a huge debt of over Rs 7,000 crore, has paid employees only till November. The KFA management has offered employees posted at airports an emergency stipend of Rs 5,000.
About 180 Kingfisher pilots (out of 700) wrote to the management in January warning that they may not report for duty if they not paid for December soon. Jet's management has not conveyed a payout date for January though it is believed to February 15, Wednesday.
The delays have forced some Kingfisher pilots to raise the issue of air safety.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently conducted an audit of Kingfisher to check whether financial problems have affected safety observances.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Jet Airways had suspended one of its commander-pilot for allowing a trainee pilot to take over from copilot to land the plane in Mumbai. The incident had occured a few months after DGCA's safety audit of all Indian airlines which among other things found that the financial crisis was leading them to ignore safety.
The commander was suspended for two-and-a-half months. DGCA had asked the airline to take action against the pilot and the chief of its flight safety in connection with the incident that had taken place about four months ago.
Courtesy: Mail Today