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Jet Airways Removes 30 ‘Expensive’ Expat Pilots

The airline's Indian pilots had been protesting against alleged favoritism displayed by the firm towards expat employees.

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Jet Airways has phased out the employment of 30 expatriate pilots since April 2017 in a bid to cut costs and appease Indian employees who complained of “stepmotherly” behavior towards them. The National Aviator’s Guild (NAG), its domestic pilots’ union, had demanded that foreign pilots be removed as they are treated better and get higher pay.

In phasing out the expatriate pilots, the second largest airline in India also bowed to the demands of the NAG that had wanted removal of “expensive” pilots. The airline still has 54 foreign pilots but they too would be removed soon, PTI reported citing a source. Indian pilots had also asked for the removal of expat pilots due to racist incidents, including one in which a foreign pilot turned violent with a trainer earlier this year. The NAG, which consists of 1,044 members, had issued a boycott call then, which was later revoked.

“Jet Airways has handed over pink slips to some 40 expat pilots in the last more than six months. However, 10 of them have been hired again. So, in all, 30 foreign pilots have already been sent back home till now. But we want all these expensive pilots to be done away with,” the new agency quoted the person as saying. The foreign pilots were commanding the Boeing 737 and ATR fleet.

“Today, Jet Airways has an overwhelming majority of Indian pilots with only a small percentage of expatriates, which is in line with DGCA guidelines on FATA, as per which, all airlines are expected to duly justify expatriates recruitment as well have a nationalization plan,” the Jet Airways spokesperson told PTI.

In August 2017, Jet Airways had unilaterally decided to seek Rs 1 crore bonds from junior pilots, and also told them to sign a 5 to 7 year contract with the airline. They were also told that they would have to take 10 days mandatory off each month that would lead to 30 per cent cut backs on salary.

The company has been trying to restructure since they witnessed a 91 per cent decline in net profit due to costlier fuel, lower airfares and weak demand in the Gulf region in the fourth quarter that ended March 31, 2017. They are also planning to reevaluate salaries of senior pilots and sub-lease smaller aircraft to regional airlines.

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