SpiceJet seems to be taking advantage of the financial crisis that has engulfed Jet Airways, by taking on the latter’s pilots and engineers at salaries way lower than their current packages. While the pilots are being hired for packages that are 25 to 30 per cent lower than their existing packagesalaries, the engineers are being forced to settle for almost half of what they were used to drawing.
Although it is reported that Jet was known to pay better salaries than other low-cost carriers, there was a time when these very pilots and engineers were being wooed with attractive bonuses and perks.
Some senior aircraft maintenance engineers who were being paid about Rs 4 lakh a month at Jet are being offered about 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh a month at Spice Jet and Air India Express. Most of them still hope that Jet will revive with the help of some investor and they will not have to quit.
Pilots who have about four to five years of experience are looking out for jobs with other airlines Airlines as they are unable to tolerate the salary delays any more.
“They have loans and other financial commitments so they are looking for places where there is certainty of jobs and timely salary payment. Not many senior level pilots have so far left Jet Airways. They are reluctant to go to either SpiceJet, IndiGo or Air India Express as they feel their seniority and salary will be impacted. They do not want to sign 3-5 year bonds,” he said.
The flying veteran noted that many co-pilots who do not have much experience generally get about Rs 2.9 lakh salary month at Jet Airways, and they are willing to join other airlines for even less than Rs 2 lakh a month. Among various domestic airlines, only Air India Express and SpiceJet operate Boeing fleets, apart from Jet Airways. Those operating Airbus aircraft fear huge conversion costs for both pilots and engineers and are, thus, reluctant to hire the technical personnel from Jet. “We will have to train them for flying and maintenance of Airbus aircraft. In case of pilots, it will need six months of training, while for engineers the reskilling would take 3-4 months. This means the salary for entire training period will be a huge cost for us,” said an executive of a private airline operating Airbus planes.
Although almost 90 per cent of the Jet Airways’ fleet is grounded, experts are of the opinion that the Airline’s crisis will soon be over, and most pilots and engineers will return as soon as operations stabilise. But aviation experts feel that the current situation is temporary and it will normalise once Jet gets back on its feet. “This is an unusual situation because Jet Airways remains almost grounded. Normally, supply and demand have been in favour of pilots and engineers. Now, it depends on how quickly Jet restarts again. If that happens things will stabilise. I won`t be surprised if many pilots and engineers go back to Jet,” said Rajan Mehra, a veteran aviation professional and Chief Executive Officer Club One Air.
Saddled with mounting debt and losses, Jet Airways is fighting for its survival. The airline is in gradual descent and staring at closure with nearly 90 per cent of its fleet on the ground.