In what many term as a sign of the aviation industry taking steps towards recovery, IndiGo has told pilots that it would reduce their days of leave without pay (LWP) from 10 days a month in July to just three days in November.
The Business Standard was the first to report this and termed it as an apparent sign of recovery of the aviation sector. The newspaper reported that while pilots of single aisle aircraft like Airbus A320 and A321 will have leave without pay of three days per month, for captains of regional aircraft fleet like ATR-72 there will be no more LWP.
With a month-on-month growth of 39 percent in September, domestic air traffic in the country jumped the most since the lockdown. Monthly statistics provided by aviation safety regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) revealed that 3.94 million people travelled by air in September compared to 2.83 million in August.
In June IndiGo had implemented a mandatory leave without pay program for 1.5 days to 5 days, the Business Standard report said adding that subsequently, in July, IndiGo announced 5.5 additional days of LWP for its pilots, taking the effective number of LWP to 10 days.
As a cost cutting measure, the airline had also let go of 10 percent of its employees and implemented a pay cut across the board.
In a mailer to IndiGo pilots, Ashim Mitra, the airline’s flight operations head wrote: “The festive season is here and it brings along positivity and happiness all around us! As we continue to remain optimistic about the passenger demand growing over the next few months, I would like to share the following update with you for the month of November. LWP for pilots on the Airbus fleet and First Officers on the ATR fleet, shall be reduced to 3 days. As shared earlier, we will review the LWP policy on a monthly basis.”
On October 29, InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, parent company of IndiGo, had announced its Q2 results that showed loss widen to Rs. 1,194.8 crore and revenue plunge 65 percent.
During an analysts call post the announcement, chief executive Ronojoy Dutta said, “We are currently operating at about 58 percent of our total capacity though the government, at present, allows airlines to deploy upto 60 percent of their total capacity. This is due to restrictions of flights in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.”
Mr. Dutta had also indicated that the company would be calling back its employees as capacity utilisation improved. Airline CFO Aditya Pande however made it clear that the airline will keep salary costs 30 percent lower than its pre-COVID-19 levels, an indication that salary cuts for employees would stay for now.
IndiGo has also not deferred its aircraft induction plan and actually added eight new aircraft during July-September period. During the same period, the airline also retired around 10 older aircraft in order to bring down maintenance costs.