Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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More staff, planes & routes: Vistara, SpiceJet, IndiGo are slowly rebuilding their air ‘power’

Airlines were forced to resort to layoffs, salary cuts and leave without pay after the Covid pandemic hit. Nearly a year since, it is seeing a growth in demand.

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New Delhi: Hit by the Covid-induced lockdown since early 2020, India’s aviation industry is slowly bouncing back with private airlines now starting to recruit staff again, expanding their fleet and introducing new routes.

Among the private players in India, low-cost carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo, and full-service carrier Vistara have now begun hiring again. Moreover, these airlines have started new routes, particularly in smaller Indian cities, and have also increased their fleet size.

The moves come following layoffs, salary cuts and leave without pay the airlines were forced to resort to during the pandemic, when they had to suspend normal operations — both domestic and international — as borders were shut around the world to check the spread of Covid-19.

Also read: Why a Bangladesh plane that made emergency landing in 2015 is still stuck in Raipur

New hiring and routes

In April 2020, SpiceJet cut the salary of its employees by 10-30 per cent. The airline’s net losses amounted to Rs 600 crore and Rs 112 crore in the first and second quarters, respectively.

However, things seem to be taking a turn for the better as hiring has begun. “This is an ongoing process,” an airline spokesperson told ThePrint, underlining that there were zero retrenchments owing to Covid.

SpiceJet has also introduced more than 60 new routes in the past one year.

“Some of our exclusive new routes include Mumbai-Jalandhar (Adampur), Delhi-Pakyong (Sikkim), Bengaluru-Darbhanga (Bihar), Mumbai-Ajmer (Kishangarh), Mumbai-Darbhanga. Several new aircraft have also been added to the fleet including five wide-body cargo planes,” the spokesperson said.

Vistara has also started hiring very selectively to address specific business requirements. “The hirings have been mainly for select operational roles,” a Vistara spokesperson told ThePrint, adding that though there were no reductions in the company’s 4000 plus staff strength, the airline put its senior officials on leave without pay.

“A temporary pay cut scheme was introduced at Vistara which continues to be in effect till 31 March 2021. However, it does not impact nearly 60 per cent of Vistara’s staff at junior levels,” the spokesperson said. 

Vistara’s losses have been mounting the past five years as its liabilities surged to Rs 1,814 crore in FY20 from Rs 401 crore in FY16. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown also dealt a setback to the airline’s plans for the upcoming fiscal.

The airline is now bouncing back and has expanded its network with six new international destinations — London, Dhaka, Doha, Frankfurt, Sharjah and Male.

“We also introduced several new routes within our domestic network, including Bengaluru-Patna, Bengaluru-Guwahati, Mumbai-Raipur and Mumbai-Ahmedabad. Additionally, we will also be launching 2x (twice) weekly service between Mumbai and Srinagar effectively 15 March 2021,” the spokesperson said.

Also read: Avoiding flights for fear of Covid? This airline has Rs 299 virus test to convince you

Fleet expansion

Vistara added eight aircraft in the calendar year 2020 — two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, two Airbus A321neo and four Airbus A320neo aircraft — to make its fleet 45-strong.

“In the current financial year, seven of our old Airbus A320neo aircraft are being replaced with brand new A320neos that have more advanced features,” the spokesperson added. 

The airline aims to have 70 aircraft in its fleet by 2023. 

Low-cost carrier IndiGo has also increased its fleet to 284 aircraft from 262. Speaking to ThePrint, an IndiGo spokesperson said that with an eye on boosting economic growth in tier-2 cities, the airline recently announced seven new stations including Leh, Darbhanga, Kurnool, Agra, Bareilly, Durgapur, and Rajkot.

The airline will also be facilitating coronavirus vaccinations for its crew.

“We are working in a streamlined manner so as to ensure that all our staff get vaccinated while also making sure that our operations are not affected during the process. We will sponsor the vaccines for our staff and will facilitate it for their families,” the spokesperson added.

In April 2020, IndiGo — India’s largest carrier by fleet size and passenger load — cut the salary of its employees by 5-25 per cent and then laid off 10 per cent of its workforce. The airline incurred net losses amounting to Rs 2,884 crore and Rs 1,194 crore in Q1 and Q2 of 2020, respectively. However, in December 2020, the airline announced that it will begin recruiting soon.

39,000 jobs lost, but ‘demand seems to be growing’ now

While restrictions continue on international travel, India’s domestic market seems to be inching closer to pre-Covid numbers. As on 9 March 2021, 2,21,308 passengers travelled on 2,191 flights while total flight movements stood at 4,389. The average daily passenger load, according to ministry statistics, was around 3 lakh.

However, concerns about the industry’s bounce back remains. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had stated that 39,000 jobs were lost in the sector in April-September 2020. 

“Pilots were actually jobless. It wasn’t about where you do the job from … there was no job to be done,” Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder & executive vice president of staffing company, Teamlease Services, told ThePrint.

“We are already seeing signs of some recovery. Some airlines had let go of their fleets but we are now seeing them buying some fleets,” Chakraborty added.

Underlining how the demand for pilots, cabin crew and ground staff is growing, Chakraborty said, “Everybody in the airline will benefit from this. I don’t wish to predict anything dramatic but it’s a gradual growth we will witness.”

Chakraborty expects a big boost in international travel too, but with a caveat. “There is a pent up demand for international travel. But this will be a one-time jump after which it will normalise,” she said.

(Edited by Amit Updhyaya)

Also read: This is how Modi govt plans to make flying to Northeast a smoother & impressive experience


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  1. Never got a refund of my booking amount from indigo as my to and fro flights were cancelled last year owing to Corona

  2. Indigo is not even responding to the emails regarding refund of faulty booking amount.
    Rest all is clean and lean!!.

  3. Hi..sir my name is K.UDAYA Kumar I’m from odissa berhampur my qualifications is +2 discontinue I am interested job pls contact my number 9583150999 I talking english,hindi, telugu, odiya .

  4. How and where to apply for as they are asking for staff?? I also want to apply but I didn’t get something in this full article.

    • Hi sir my name s.shajan basha im interested working airlines then I have no experience I’m fresher I want airlines course and job I’m from andhra pradesh Tirupati my contact number 7032868268
      My qualifications is 10th and
      Iti industrial Training Institute chittoor Govt college

      • Hi sir for working in aviation industry you atleast need to be 12th pass or a graduate first complete your 12th then give interviews in any domestic airlines which operates in India and for most of the international airlines your age should be minimum 21 and you should be able to speak English fluently. For many airlines as a ground staff you should be a graduate.
        Thank you

    • Can you please let me know the hiring process?
      How can I apply because I am unable to search the route and exactly the email address through which they can call me for interview.

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