GoAir, which on March 17 suspended its international operations, is terminating contracts of its expat pilots to cut costs and see through the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry.
Sources told Moneycontrol that the Wadia-family owned airline sent termination letters to expat pilots, on March 16. Moneycontrol has seen a copy of the letter.
Later in the day on March 18, GoAir confirmed that it has terminated contract of expat pilots.
"In view of the current situation, GoAir has been forced to terminate the contracts of expat pilots which is in line with the reduced international capacity," it said in a statement shared with Moneycontrol.
While the airline didn't specify the number, reports have earlier indicated that the company has about 70 expat pilots.
In the letter to the employee, the airline said the aviation industry is going through a 'global crisis' due to the coronavirus pandemic. "There has been substantial reduction in our domestic operations and international has presently been suspended," the airline said to the employee.
GoAir on March 17 said it is suspending all international operations, starting March 17, until April 15, due to unprecedented decline in air travel.
In the termination letter, the airline added:
"As a result, we are unable to operate on the scale we presently were and have been forced to scale down the operation to be able to sustain this decline."
It then advised the expat pilot to 'immediately proceed to your home country'.
The layoff underlines the dramatic collapse that the aviation sector is going though in India and overseas because of the coronavirus. Globally, some of the airlines have shut operations and others have considerably cut down on operations.
While globally the virus has led to more than 7,000 death and nearly 200,000 infections, in India, three have died and 147 have been reported to be infected.
Industry organisation IATA has estimated losses to be as high as $113 billion. Industry advisory CAPA has warned at many airlines could go bankrupt.
"All airlines globally and within India are having staff engagement on taking leave, leave without pay and terminating contractors," said a senior industry executive.
"Airlines are scaling down scaling operations and therefore asking contract expat pilots to take leave without pay," the executive added.
International travelIn its announcement on March 17, GoAir said that it has' initiated a short term and temporary rotational leave without pay programme that will not only help the company counter the short term reduction in capacity, but will also ensure that a cross section of our employees stay away from the workplace to ensure business continuity."
The company noted that airlines in India have petitioned the government seeking immediate support, "as most governments around the world have already provided aid."
Its peers IndiGo and Air India have also curtailed international operations. While Air India suspended flights to the UK and Europe, IndiGo has done the same for its flights to Turkey.
The suspensions have come after the Indian government put in travel restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.
The story has been updated after GoAir's statement
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