60 Spice Jet Airlines Pilots were told by the troubled Airline to leave on Friday

About 60 Spice Jet Airlines Pilots, who had put in their resignations around October-November last year, were told by the troubled Airline to leave on Friday (January 9) and ahead of the normal six month notice period.

The cash-strapped low-cost carrier, which is estimated to save Rs 10-15 crore through the move, has cut the notice period for the Pilots to about three months because it has reduced its Boeing 737 fleet by half to 17 today from 35 in July last year to save on maintenance costs.

Spice Jet Airlines, which is awaiting investment from a consortium led by founder promoter Ajay Singh, has seen over 100 Pilots put in their resignation since November last year when it’s simmering financial troubles took a turn for the worst. In all, the Airline is said to have about 200 Boeing B737 Pilots currently with its reduced fleet size.

“Today, 68 Pilots have been told to leave by the management. They were first asked to leave on December 31, but had then requested the company to allow them to complete the six month notice period. But, the company did not oblige. This will lead to a major loss for Pilots because they cannot join their new job before March and will thus have to lose salary for three months,” a Spice Jet Airlines Pilot told BS.

Spice Jet Airlines did not respond to an emailed  questionaire.

According to a DGCA rule put in place a few years back, Pilots have to serve a six-month notice period if they resign, unless the Airline reduces this by itself. In most cases, Airlines want Pilots to serve the full notice period because of the time and investment required for recruits.

Another source close to the development added, “There have been no layoffs, only resigned Pilots are departing. This balances Spice Jet Airlines’s reduced Pilot needs.”

Kalanithi Maran promoted Spice Jet Airlines, which had paid November 2014 salaries for Pilots after a 20-day delay, is now expected to clear December wage dues for some junior employees by January 10 and the rest by January 20. On January 10, the Airline will also give the civil aviation ministry details on the funds expected to be raised by the promoters before fresh investment from Ajay Singh comes in by end-February or March this year – the Airline is estimated to need about Rs 400 crore to meet daily operating costs till March 2015.

Spice Jet Airlines, which is currently operating a 230 daily flight schedule down from about 340 in mid-2014, has accumulated losses of Rs 2,958 crore and a negative net worth of Rs 1,459 crore, leading its auditors SR Batliboi to cast doubts on its ability to continue as a going concern.

The Airline, which posted a record Rs 1,003 crore loss in FY14, currently has liabilities of about Rs 1,200 crore which includes almost Rs 300 crore to Airports and various other vendors. The Spice Jet Airlines scrip at the BSE closed 9.91% up to Rs 18.30 on Friday.

Susweta Bose  [Masters in Mass Comm ] 
Sub Editor