Mumbai: Uncertain times in the aviation industry is forcing two leading airlines to rethink their plans to set up training institutions for pilots and aircraft engineers.
India's largest private airline Jet Airways and Deccan Aviation, which flies under the Kingfisher sub-brand Simplifly Deccan, had made plans to set up training facilities to fill in the blanks in their hiring plans at a time when they were expanding operations, and the going was good. However, with domestic airlines now looking very closely at the prospect of posting a collective combined loss of $2 billion (Rs8,540 crore) during this fiscal year, primarily on account of exorbitant jet fuel prices, these plans may fall by the wayside.
Changes in the aviation environment have brought on a forced capacity rationalisation, with excess flights being trimmed in the domestic market. This is leading to rationalisations in both routes, as well as staff size. According to industry observers, now the number of pilots could be more than required, particularly as airlines have rationalised capacity and are cutting back on flights.
Expat pilots are the most visible casualty, for instance. Being paid more than Indian pilots, they are a higher cost resource, and a number of them have been asked by domestic airlines to go back.
Jet Airways, which had been in talks with Brussels-based Sabena Flight Academy for a possible partnership, was looking at setting up a training facility that would have supplied around 200 candidates annually.
Deccan Aviation too had similarly planned to establish a residential training centre at a planned outlay of Rs65 crore, before it was taken over last year by Kingfisher Airlines' parent company UB Group. Air India – Indian merged entity run National Aviation Co. of India Ltd (NACIL) too has shelved plans for training facilities, which it had been planning in association with aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus SAS.