Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

JetLite pilots to lose seniority on Jet merger

Mumbai | Posted: August 28, 2014 5:13 am

In an unprecedented move in India’s aviation sector, pilots of JetLite, the no-frills carrier owned by Jet Airways (which will soon cease to exist) have been told that their previous flying experience will not hold any value as and when they are absorbed into the parent airline.

The move has created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty among JetLite pilots regarding their future. Jet Airways’ chief executive-designate Cramer Ball is scheduled to meet with JetLite’s 230 pilots on September 9 and shed further light on the company’s future plans.

Some pilots of the low cost-airline that Jet acquired from the Sahara Group in 2007 told FE on condition of anonymity that they may quit following the meeting, if the management’s explanation doesn’t satisfy them.

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India’s third largest carrier by market share had said on August 13 that it will operate all flights under a single brand, Jet Airways, and the loss-making low cost carrier JetLite will cease to exist.

In an internal memo dated August 19, the company’s human resources department intimated JetLite’s pilots that they would have to resign and from their employment at JetLite and apply for a job with Jet Airways afresh. A copy of the memo has been reviewed by FE.

When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said that the pilots’ movement to Jet Airways will open career opportunities not only for a command upgrade but also for exposure to flying international routes and also movement to wide-body aircraft.

“During October-December 2013, 50 pilots from JetLite were inducted laterally in Jet Airways for pilot in-charge and first officer vacancies based on operational requirements. This permanent movement of pilots was on a voluntary basis,” the spokesperson said. He confirmed that Ball will be meeting JetLite pilots on September 9.

An aviation practice leader with an international consulting firm stated that the terms and conditions put in place by the airline to absorb JetLite’s pilots may be driven by cost considerations. He declined to be identified.

While their current salary would be protected, JetLite pilots are concerned about their future prospects at Jet following the memo, since their promotions and pay hikes are likely to get deferred due to the new structure.

“The 9W career progression policy as applicable will apply,” the memo said. “Only flying hours logged on 9W aircraft shall be counted for the purpose of pilot movement within 9W for career progression. This shall include the hours logged in during deputation to 9W.”

The memo also states: “The selected pilots shall be placed at the bottom of the 9W APL (Jet Airways’ flying code) within the relevant grade. Irrespective of the above, as far as 9W APL is concerned the S2 (JetLite’s flight code) pilots would have deemed to join the services of 9W on August 19. S2 pilots who would be moving to 9W will maintain their current S2 inter se seniority irrespective of their joining 9W services.”

JetLite pilots interpret the memo as being an indication that though they will continue to fly the same Boeing 737 aircraft, continued…

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