SpiceJet has sent 80 pilots on leave without pay for three months to rationalise its costs.
Around 40 pilots from the Boeing 737 fleet and another 40 from the Q400 fleet- which the airline operates on regional routes have been asked to go on Leave Without Pay for three months, according to Economic Times report.
The report said the airline will call them back gradually as it deploys new aircraft into its fleet. SpiceJet also plans to add seven new Boeing 737 Max starting December 2022.
SpiceJet has been making losses the past four years. The airline is also facing stiff competition from foreign and domestic carriers.
Moreover, it is currently operating less than 50 per cent flights, following the July 27 order of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the wake of a spate of incidents. Even after placing certain pilots on leave without pay, SpiceJet will have sufficient numbers of pilots to operate its full schedule as and when the DGCA restriction on flights is lifted, it added.
While the airline has 90-odd planes in its fleet, it is currently using around 50 a day to operate flights.
In a statement, 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.
In a temporary measure to rationalise cost, the airline has decided to place certain pilots on leave without pay for a period of three months, it mentioned, adding "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."