The suspension of the scheduled operator permit of Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has added to the growing list of unemployed pilots in the country.
It means that about 350-400 pilots, who were working for the cash-strapped airline, will join the 6,000-odd unemployed pilots in the country.
“Kingfisher’s crisis has only added gloom to the Indian civil aviation. The number of unemployed pilots in India has been adding and there are no signs of it receding. The disheartening thing is that a large number of the 6,000-odd unemployed pilots in the country are youngsters and some of them are yet to be hired by an airline after attaining their commercial pilots licences (CPLs),” Ashok Arya of the Unemployed Pilots Welfare Association said.
With the DGCA not allotting any slots to Kingfisher Airlines in the winter schedule, the pilots will not be flying anytime soon. The airline will have to re-apply for permit and this process is expected to take about 3 to 6 months, he said. Given the situation, a few pilots many opt for other low-cost carriers for a lesser salary, he said.
Of the current lot of pilots working for Kingfisher Airlines, about 60% are jet aircraft type-rated commanders/pilots and the rest are CPL holders designated as co-pilots. Among the 6,000-odd unemployed pilots (excluding Kingfisher), 500 are jet aircraft type-rated commanders/pilots and the rest are CPL holders.
Another option for the pilots will be to wait till the end of 2013 when the expatriate pilots employed by the airlines will have to quit their jobs. According to a DGCA directive, all airlines which have employed expatriates will have to phase them out by the end of 2013. Currently, there are about 500 expatriate pilots employed by Indian carriers including Kingfisher Airlines.
Meantime, the Kingfisher Airlines management will hold its first meeting on Monday with its striking employees following the DGCA’s suspension order.
Sanjay Agarwal, the CEO of the airlines, will meet the employees who have not reported to work since October 1 citing non-payment of salary for several months.
The management has been trying to put on a brave face by stating that its suspension by the DGCA is valid only till it submits a concrete and reliable revival plan to the satisfaction of the aviation regulator.