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SpiceJet sends 80 pilots on unpaid leave for three months to cut costs

SpiceJet has sent about 80 pilots on unpaid leave for three months to rationalize their costs.

The airline has made losses in the last four years. In addition, it currently operates less than 50 percent of the flights, following the July 27 order of the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DGCA) following a series of incidents.

While the airline has around 90 planes in its fleet, it currently uses around 50 a day to operate flights.

The sources said the airline has sent about forty B737 pilots and about forty Q400 pilots on unpaid leave for three months.

In a statement, SpiceJet said it added more than 30 aircraft in 2019 following the grounding of the B737 MAX aircraft.

“The airline had continued with its planned pilot induction program in the hope that the MAX would be back in service soon. However, the prolonged grounding of the MAX fleet resulted in a large number of excess pilots at SpiceJet,” he noted.

In a temporary measure to rationalize costs, the airline decided to place certain pilots on unpaid leave for a period of three months, he said.

“This move, which is in line with SpiceJet’s policy of not laying off any employees which the airline steadfastly followed even during the peak of the Covid pandemic, will help streamline the force of pilots against the aircraft fleet,” said.

The financially beleaguered airline said it will add more MAX planes shortly and these pilots will be back on duty when induction begins.

SpiceJet incurred net losses of Rs 316 crore, Rs 934 crore, Rs 998 crore and Rs 1725 crore in FY19, FY20, FY21 and FY22, respectively.

The airline’s chairman and CEO, Ajay Singh, said on August 31 this year that the airline will shortly engage with investment bankers to raise up to $200 million.

SpiceJet said: “During the LWP period, pilots will remain eligible for all other employee benefits as applicable, meaning all opted-in insurance benefits and employee leave travel.”

Even after placing certain pilots on unpaid leave, SpiceJet will have a sufficient number of pilots to operate its full schedule as the DGCA flight restriction is lifted, it added.

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