SpiceJet to terminate expat pilots

Tags: News
SpiceJet plans to cut costs by keeping fewer expatriate pilots on its payroll and changing flight crew schedules to help end two years of losses.

Starting this month, the New Delhi-based company is operating all of its Boeing 737 aircraft using local pilots, chief executive officer Neil Mills said. Overseas nationals typically get paid 40 per cent more than their local peers in India’s aviation industry, including tax liabilities. A weaker rupee added to the expenses, Mills said. The airline will retain foreign pilots needed to operate its 15 Bombardier Q400 turbo-propeller planes, he said.

“They supported us very well and they really helped us grow, but their cost has become very huge, particularly with the exchange rate having gone up adversely,” Mills, a South African, said on the telephone from his office.

SpiceJet, controlled by billionaire Kalanithi Maran, is joining rivals including Jet Airways and state-owned Air India in trimming expenditure as competition, fuel prices and government levies weigh on earnings. SpiceJet shares more than doubled last year, the best performance since 2009, amid speculation Maran will sell a stake to an overseas partner after the government relaxed foreign investment rules.

Spending on workers at SpiceJet, which had hired 60 expatriate pilots for its Boeing fleet, rose 66 per cent to Rs 400 crore ($74 million) in the year ended March 31, after the carrier added the Bombardier turboprops.

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