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SpiceJet to only pay cargo flight pilots for hours-flown; no salaries for April, May

The aviation consultancy firm CAPA, in its note in March had said, ‘by the end of May-2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt. Coordinated government and industry action is needed – now – if catastrophe is to be avoided.’

SNS | New Delhi |

SpiceJet told its pilots on Wednesday that they will not be paid salaries for the month of April and May, except those who have been operating cargo flights will get paid only for “block hours flown”.

SpiceJet’s flight operations chief Gurcharan Arora told pilots through an email, “as of today, 16 per cent of our aircraft and 20 per cent of our pilots are flying”.

“We are doing this by flying our five cargo aircraft and also flying more ‘cargo on seat’ on our passenger aircraft,” he said. The budget carrier has a total of 116 passenger planes and five freight aircraft in its fleet.

India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus which has also put all commercial passenger flights suspended. Arora told pilots, “We will not be getting any salary for April and May 2020. Those of us who have been flying cargo, will get paid for the block hours flown.” Block hours is the duration of a pilot operating the flight.

News agency Press Trust of India reports, the email said: “Over the coming weeks, we intend to increase the number of aircraft flying (cargo+cargo on seat) to more than 50 per cent and the number of pilots flying to 100 per cent.”

The aviation consultancy firm CAPA, in its note in March had said, “By the end of May-2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt. Coordinated government and industry action is needed – now – if catastrophe is to be avoided.” Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and “what flights there are operate much less than half full”, it added.

“Forward bookings are far outweighed by cancellations and each time there is a new government recommendation it is to discourage flying. Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented. Normality is not yet on the horizon,” it said.

Last week, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta told his employees that the airline has decided to roll back the pay cuts, which were announced earlier for senior staff members, for the month of April in deference to the “government’s wishes”.

“However, your Excom (Executive Committee) members and SVPs (senior vice presidents) have volunteered to take pay cuts this month. For everyone else, you can expect your April salaries to be paid without the pay cuts,” Dutta told employees through an email, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

All domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended due to the pandemic. As a result, revenues of the Indian aviation industry have been hit hard. After aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular asking airlines to stop taking bookings for travels after May 3, last day of the lockdown, budget carrier Indigo had closed all its bookings till May 31, 2020.