Go First pilots: Go First faces staff exodus, insists on notice period

Go First pilots: Go First faces staff exodus, insists on notice period


New Delhi: Employees of Go First, which filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, are seeking jobs elsewhere as rival airlines expand operations. However, Go First is insisting that all employees who want to leave must serve notice periods of six and three months for flying and non-flying employees, respectively, said people with knowledge of the matter. Go First hasn’t been flying since May 3.

Sources said that Kaushik Khona, CEO of the airline held a town hall meeting with pilots on Friday in which he said that pilots will be paid by 15th of the month including for the days when the airline is grounded and that they will not be released without serving the six months notice period. “He said that the company is not bankrupt but has plans to revive shortly, ” said a pilot who attended the meeting. The airline is also continuing with their simulator training sessions.

Employees including pilots will require a No-Objection Certificate from their current employer before joining a new company.

The airline, which filed for voluntary bankruptcy on Tuesday, has been irregular with salary payments over the past few months with half of its 56-strong fleet grounded due to a shortage of engines.

A senior Go First executive however said it intends to resume operations and has told employees that salaries will be protected.

“We have made and are making all efforts to revive operations and we have requested employees to help us in this process,” the executive said.

Indian carriers are poised for their busiest year of pilot hiring in more than three years as they try to restock a workforce reduced during the pandemic and strained by a quick rebound in travel. And, unlike previous years, the scramble is for senior commanders and trainers who are in the highest pay bracket.

Three carriers–market leader IndiGo, Tata-backed Air India and the country’s newest airline Akasa Air–together plan to hire over 1,000 pilots this year. IndiGo and Air India held road shows for pilots this week and have planned hiring throughout the month.

Air India had to extend its walk-in interviews for pilots of Airbus A320s–the aircraft type used by Go First–by a day due to the exodus from the airline. Go has around 800 pilots.

Air India has substantial expansion plans as it seeks to expand capacity and modernise its fleet following privatisation. Last month, the carrier placed an order for a record 540 aircraft in modern aviation’s largest ever jet order. As the airline plans to induct more than 90 aircraft in the next 18 months, it’s facing an acute shortage of pilots and is offering a monthly salary of $21,000 to expat commanders for Boeing 777s.

IndiGo, rapidly expanding its fleet, also needs pilots. India’s number one airline has a fleet that’s dominated by Airbus A320s.

An IndiGo spokesperson said the airline plans to increase its staff strength by almost 6,000 people, including pilots, in FY24.

“Our current hiring efforts are broad-based and cover several functional roles across IndiGo,” the person said. “We are on a continuous expansion plan till the end of this decade, with a strong pipeline of almost 500 planes on order. Our hiring would be commensurate with that.”

Akasa Air plans to add over 300 pilots and is said to be looking to place an order of over 150 Boeing 737 Max planes.

CEO Vinay Dube said the airline now has 2,000 employees.

“By the end of the next fiscal we will be close to 3,000 employees. We will be hiring 300 pilots in 12 months,” Dube said. It will also hire cabin crew, engineers and staff in airport operations.



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