Mumbai: Jet Airways is planning to hire around 100 foreign pilots for its wide body Boeing fleet and has already approached several hiring firms for this, even as the aviation regulator has set a December 2013 deadline for phasing out expat pilots. "Jet is planning to hire up to 100 foreign pilots. The airline requires these pilots for the wide-body Boeing 777s," sources familiar with the development said.
The airline, however, did not respond to the text message on the issue. Interestingly, Jet's demand for foreign pilots comes at a time when the regulator DGCA's deadline for phasing out all expat pilots is nine months away, they said. Also, the airline during the post Q2 earnings, analysts concall last November, had said it was aiming to reduce the number of expat pilots by almost half by the the end of this fiscal.
"By March 2013, we will reduce (the number of expat pilots) to 59 from 107. As of March end 2012, we had 207 expat pilots," Jet senior vice-president for commercial finance investor relations, KG Vishwanath had told the analysts. "The airline has approached foreign pilot firms to supply these pilots. However, as part of the contract obligations, it wants to pay only one-time agency commission and not per pilot per month as per the norms," they said, adding, some of these agencies have spurned the proposal on this very ground.
According to a CAPA report, over the next 12-18 months, Jet's wide-body fleet is expected to increase from 18 operational aircraft to at least 30, although this is largely dependent on the new network plan to be developed once the Etihad deal is completed. Jet, which has leased five of its Boeing 777s to Thai Airways, has already said it will be using two of these planes
into its own network.
Of the five, three are coming back in June-July, while the remaining two will come back to Jet in October-November after completing the lease period with Thai Air.