Days after SpiceJet announced a salary hike for its pilots, a section of captains and first officers of the airline has expressed apprehension about the implementation of the revised remuneration citing terms and conditions.
In a communication to pilots on October 19, SpiceJet said effective November 1, 2022, its captains’ salaries will increase to ₹7 lakh for 80 hours of monthly flying and ₹6.13 lakh for 70 hours from the current ₹4.5 lakh-level which was made effective from October 1, 2022.
Accordingly, salaries of trainers and senior first officers have also been increased commensurately, the Gurugram-headquartered airline said.
The trainers comprise Designated Examiner (DE), Type Ratings Instructor (TRI) and Line Training Captain (LTC).
However, a section of pilots alleged that the airline has announced a hike in their remunerations while they are yet to get salaries at par with pre-COVID levels, a claim denied by SpiceJet.
On an average, a captain is currently getting around ₹2.50 lakh a month while a first officer takes home about ₹1 lakh every month after basic deductions, multiple pilots said requesting anonymity.
“So basically, we are still getting only half of our actual salaries and I do not know how this new salary structure announcement is going to be implemented,” a Spicejet pilot told PTI.
SpiceJet insiders said the company had recently forced dozens of pilots into opting for leave without pay (LWP) as the airline is operating at 50% strength due to DGCA’s order post a series of flight safety incidents.
While official figures could not be confirmed, it was estimated that in October 2022, SpiceJet had an operational fleet of about 50 aircraft, including Bombardier Q400 and Boeing planes, with around 750 pilots.
Over a 100 pilot, many of them Boeing captains, quit SpiceJet in recent months amid curtailed and irregular pays, besides future uncertainties, to join the newly-launched Akasa Air and some Gulf-based carriers, they said.
The fresh salary hike announcement seems focused on those mulling to quit SpiceJet and those on LWP getting job offers from other airlines, with many already looking for better opportunities as the aviation market once again has opened up for recruitments, they claimed.
“This new announcement seems to be the proverbial carrot on the end of the stick. I doubt if any pilot will even get this salary,” another pilot, currently on leave without pay, told PTI.
The pilots also alleged that clocking 80 hours of monthly flying – a requisite to claiming the ₹7 lakh salary – could be prevented by the company by means of adjusting their scheduled duties.
“All these conditions have to be kept in mind before taking the new announcement seriously. We cannot believe this until full salaries are paid as announced,” a serving SpiceJet captain said.
When contacted, SpiceJet on its part said the claims of a section of pilots are “completely wrong”.
In August, SpiceJet captains got a minimum gross salary of ₹3.7 lakh. In September their salary was increased to a minimum of ₹4 lakh, and in October it was increased further to ₹4.5 lakh, it said.
“The take-home net salary is after deductions like tax, provident fund etc. SpiceJet has consistently and progressively, with intimation to the pilots, increased their salaries month-on-month,” a spokesperson for SpiceJet told PTI.
“In November, their salaries will be higher than pre-COVID levels with captains getting ₹7 lakh. The corresponding pre-COVID level was ₹6.45 lakh,” the spokesperson added.
One of the pilots countered the employer’s claim, arguing that a captain would have got the ₹6.45 lakh salary but it would have been against completing 70 hours of flying and not 80 hours, as announced on Wednesday in the revised structure.