Expatriate pilots still being taken on by Indian domestic airlines

Published:  15 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: India, Jobs
Expat pilot numbers are on the increase in Indian domestic airlines.

In spite of the Indian government’s attempts to cut down the numbers working for the country’s domestic airlines, more expat pilots than ever are taking on the job. Last year, the Indian Directorate-General of Civil Aviation changed the rules for the employment of expatriate pilots in order to encourage more qualified Indian aviators to fill vacant jobs. In 2019, the phasing out of expatriate pilots seems to have hit a brick wall, as more than ever are now employed in the domestic sector.

During 2018, the numbers of foreign pilots employed in the domestic sector soared, both for scheduled and non-scheduled services in spite of the government’s insistence on a reduction. Numbers hired between the beginning and end of 2018 rose to 324, even although the official line from the airlines was that they were enacting the government’s instructions. IndiGo, the nation’s biggest domestic carrier, was the worst offender, employing a further 93 foreign pilots, and national carrier Air India’s domestic offshoot Alliance Air hired 66 during the same period of time.

The airlines themselves aren’t taking kindly to government intervention in their hiring strategies as, taken on a percentage basis, the number of foreign aviators flying their aircraft is just a small percentage of their entire pilot strength. By September last year, IndiGo was employing 2,697 Indian pilots as against 81 expatriate flyers, and Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline, had taken on 28 expat pilots as against its 1,620 Indian nationals. The problem seems to be a shortage of sufficiently qualified and experienced senior pilots, meaning there’s no option but to hire top-level expatriates to ensure the safety of passengers and the in-flight training of less experienced pilots.
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