Cost cutting: Jet to phase out expatriate pilots

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{image-Jet Airways_25112008.jpg www.oneindia.com}New Delhi, Nov 25: Jet Airways is likely to reduce the number of foreign pilots following the tough stand taken by its Indian pilots. The country"s largest private carrier is unlikely to renew the contracts of 35 foreign pilots.

"Our stand is very clear. If the airline has to prune costs, it should first do away with the expat pilots. We are sending a formal proposal to the management in this regard," a source in The Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots has been quoted by news agencies as saying. Contracts of expat pilot will be terminated over the next six months. However, the contracts of these pilots are such that the airlines cannot immediately throw them out so what they are doing is gradually reducing the numbers.

Nonetheless, around 35 pilots who had come as first officers and were undergoing training on the French ATR aircraft have been told that their contracts will not be renewed. However, Jet has to yet give an official statement.

Of the total 950 odd pilots, expat pilots number around 290. The salary of domestic pilots is nearly 50 per cent less than that of expat pilots. Also, expat pilots get a tax-free salary of between $15,000 to $25,000 per month besides perquisites such as five-star hotel accommodation and business class conveyance to their home country.

Jet has been looking at cutting costs and right-sizing after it rationalised its fleet and cut routes, following the recent slowdown in the aviation industry. The airline is looking at giving its aircraft on lease to other airlines and Boeing 737s, the wide-bodied 777 and Airbus 330 could be given on re-lease to airlines in the Middle East.

Jet has already scaled down operations by over 15 per cent and this number could go up. Another private air-carrier, Vijay Mallya-run Kingfisher Airlines, had last month announced a 90 per cent cut in the salaries of its trainee pilots as part of its cost-cutting measures.

 

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