Airlines were forced to resort to layoffs, salary cuts and leave without pay after the Covid pandemic hit. Nearly a year since, it is seeing a growth in demand.

Hit by the Covid-induced lockdown since early 2020, India’s aviation industry is slowly bouncing back with private airlines now starting to recruit staff again, expanding their fleet and introducing new routes.

Among the private players in India, low-cost carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo, and full-service carrier Vistara have now begun hiring again. Moreover, these airlines have started new routes, particularly in smaller Indian cities, and have also increased their fleet size.

The moves come following layoffs, salary cuts and leave without pay the airlines were forced to resort to during the pandemic, when they had to suspend normal operations — both domestic and international — as borders were shut around the world to check the spread of Covid-19.

New hiring and routes

In April 2020, SpiceJet cut the salary of its employees by 10-30 per cent. The airline’s net losses amounted to Rs 600 crore and Rs 112 crore in the first and second quarters, respectively.

However, things seem to be taking a turn for the better as hiring has begun. “This is an ongoing process,” an airline spokesperson told ThePrint, underlining that there were zero retrenchments owing to Covid.

SpiceJet has also introduced more than 60 new routes in the past one year.

“Some of our exclusive new routes include Mumbai-Jalandhar (Adampur), Delhi-Pakyong (Sikkim), Bengaluru-Darbhanga (Bihar), Mumbai-Ajmer (Kishangarh), Mumbai-Darbhanga. Several new aircraft have also been added to the fleet including five wide-body cargo planes,” the spokesperson said.

Vistara has also started hiring very selectively to address specific business requirements. “The hirings have been mainly for select operational roles,” a Vistara spokesperson told ThePrint, adding that though there were no reductions in the company’s 4000 plus staff strength, the airline put its senior officials on leave without pay.

“A temporary pay cut scheme was introduced at Vistara which continues to be in effect till 31 March 2021. However, it does not impact nearly 60 per cent of Vistara’s staff at junior levels,” the spokesperson said. 

Vistara’s losses have been mounting the past five years as its liabilities surged to Rs 1,814 crore in FY20 from Rs 401 crore in FY16. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown also dealt a setback to the airline’s plans for the upcoming fiscal.

Source: The Print