IndiGo Pilot Crunch: Budget carrier IndiGo is planning to induct 120 expatriate pilots by the end of this year to address staff crunch and subsequent flight cancellations. The move comes amid several senior expat pilots quitting their jobs at IndiGo in the last few months, impelling it to scout for new ones to fill in the vacant posts.
The issue came into light last week when IndiGo had to cancel around 1,200 flights in the last one and a half months amid severe staff shortage, adverse weather conditions and various ongoing NOTAMS (notices to airmen) apart from partial closedown of the Bengaluru airport due to Aero India 2019 and runway closure at the Mumbai airport on alternate days.
According to a report in Livemint, IndiGo's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said that the airline will induct 120 expats by June 2019 which will take the total number of expat pilots at IndiGo to 160. The current strength of the airline is about 3,100 including trainees. "IndiGo currently maintains a ratio of about 6.65 captains per aircraft, which I think is a good number," he said.
Prock-Schauer highlighted the overall pilot crunch the industry is facing but also said that IndiGo has been able to retain its senior pilots and promoting about 260 first officers to captains every year.
"In our case we are in a position to retain (pilots). We are big (in pilot strength) and have enough trainers and simulators available," Prock-Schauer said.
Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha told parliament last month that amid a total of 324 expat pilots at all commercial airlines, the number of expat pilots at IndiGo stood at 93 as of 15 December, 2018.
The airline on 12 February said that it was going to cancel approximately 30 flights every day until March end owing to its flight schedule adjustments and the time it needed to stabilize its network and operations. IndiGo operates about 1,300 flights daily. It however, denied media reports that it cancelled 130 flights on Friday.
According to aviation advisory firm Capa India, Indian airlines will need to recruit around 17,000 additional commercial pilots over the next decade to tide over the crunch which is a reality with all Indian carriers currently.