Jet Airways is offering an extra allowance of Rs 70,000 to a section of its first officers ( junior pilots) to discourage them from leaving the airline.
Over a hundred pilots, mainly first officers from its Boeing 737s and ATR fleet, have resigned from the airline in recent months owing to delays in command training of the first officers.
These resignations, it is feared, might impact schedules going forward and hence the airline is offering extra allowances to retain its pilots. A Jet Airways spokesperson however denied pilot shortage and added there was no impact on schedules.
First officers are required to undergo simulator checks and route checks (flying under supervision of instructors) in order to get a command on an aircraft. The airline is offering extra pay to first officers whose command training has been delayed and this would be in addition to regular pay and flying allowance of around Rs 2.2-2.5 lakh.
Jet Airways has around 1,200 pilots operating Airbus, Boeing and ATR aircraft. Many of those who have resigned are in their six month notice period and are tipped to join rival airlines in India and Gulf.
Additionally to meet the shortage caused by resignations, the airline has proposed a daily incentive pay of Rs 3500-7000 to any pilot who volunteers to work on his or her off day. As per their agreement pilots on the Boeing 737 fleet get two days off after six days of flying. Moreover duty hours of pilots in India are governed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation norms. These rules lay down the duty hours and rest period for pilots. Pilots are allowed 35 hours flight time in seven consecutive days and those who have not exceeded the duty time are being encouraged to fly on day off.
The airline has added flights on both domestic and international routes and hence the requirement of pilots has gone up. "On many flights two commanders are being rostered because of shortage of first officers," a Jet Airways pilot said. Sources said DGCA has also waived its rule which prohibited airlines from deploying pilots on consecutive midnight duties and this is also said to be a cause of unhappiness amongst pilots.
In an emailed response a Jet Airways spokesperson said " Jet Airways follows a structured plan for recruitment of pilots based on future projections. We employ pilots based on aircraft utilization, fleet and schedule requirements. Resignations are part of the normal attrition faced by all airlines worldwide."
"From time to time Jet Airways restructures employee compensation and implements incentive schemes for its employees, including pilots, in line with company policies and requirements. Any scheme that exists, or is proposed, is compliant to the existing regulation. As a policy, we do not comment on specifics of employee compensation," spokesperson added.