As Jet Airways struggles towards revival, SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said his airline owes it to the sector and staff of the embattled airline to try and absorb as many of them as they possibly can. In an interview to a news channel, Singh said that SpiceJet has absorbed nearly 1,000 Jet Airways employees and will continue to hire more.
Jet Airways temporarily grounded operations last week on Wednesday after lenders refused to infuse Rs 400 crore the airline requested to operate flights. This led to uncertainty about the future of the airline's 16,000 employees.
During the interview with ET Now, Singh said SpiceJet is ready to induct five aircraft from Friday and will add around 40 more in the coming weeks. These additional aircraft will be utilised in areas which are facing shortage of capacity after Jet suspended operations, he added.
"We are also in touch with DGCA which has been appointed to look at this whole slots distribution and so on. We are talking to them. We are talking to the airports to see where the gaps really are and of course our commercial team is assessing and trying to figure out where exactly the largest caps are. That is where we are going to put in our flights," Singh said during the interview.
SpiceJet is planning to take over some of the slots vacated by Jet Airways. Even if the Jet was to revive, it will be a slimmer version which takes to the skies, Singh said. This will again create some space, which we are happy to take, he said.
Singh also called for lower taxes to help support the turbulent aviation sector in India. "We need to shed this mindset that we have in India that flying is somehow for the rich and therefore needs to be taxed at a very high rate. Nowhere in the aviation world is fuel taxed at 40%, like it is in our country. Nowhere in the world is import of services taxed the way we tax the import of services," he said.
The SpiceJet chairman also said that his airline will not be in the race to take control of Jet Airways. Singh said that it would need Rs 11,000 crore cash up front to make it a viable proposition, which will be difficult from the budget carrier's perspective.
"If you look at the vendor payables, if you look at the advances that they had taken on ticket sales and if you look at all the debts, all added up it was close to Rs 25,000 crore. We felt that that was a gap that was not within the ability of SpiceJet," Singh said.