Budget Indian carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it has asked 80 of its pilots to go on a three-month leave without pay, reported PTI. The move is a temporary measure to rationalise cost, the Gurgaon-headquartered airline said.
“This measure, which is in line with SpiceJet’s policy of not retrenching any employee which the airline steadfastly followed even during the peak of the Covid pandemic, will help rationalise the pilot strength vis-à-vis the aircraft fleet,” the budget carrier said in a statement.
The pilots who have been forced to go on leave without pay are from the airline’s Boeing and Bombardier fleet.
Earlier on Tuesday, a section of pilots went into a tizzy over the decision of the financially-embattled airline. “The financial crisis of the airline was known to us but the suddenness of the decision has shocked many of us. There is also uncertainty about the company’s financial situation after three months. There is no assurance if those forced to go on leave will even be called back,” a pilot said.
SpiceJet said it had in 2019 inducted more than 30 aircraft 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,” it noted.
While the airline has 90-odd planes in its fleet, it is currently using around 50 a day to operate flights.
SpiceJet incurred net losses of Rs 316 crore, Rs 934 crore, Rs 998 crore and Rs 1,725 crore in FY19, FY20, FY21, and FY22, respectively.
On the BSE, SpiceJet shares were closed at Rs 43.60, up 0.58 per cent on Tuesday.