The country's largest airline doles out offers at its recruitment roadshows. One held in Gurugram, another planned later this week in Mumbai
After holding a 'roadshow' in Gurugram on March 12 to recruit pilots, especially captains, IndiGo is set to host a similar recruitment drive in Mumbai on March 15, with focus on the talent from distressed airline Jet Airways.
The country's largest airline is making a strong case for itself, offering up to two months of salary as 'compensation' to attract pilots who haven't been paid in Jet Airways.
"One doesn't need to apply and get appointment for meeting in the roadshow, the industry parlance for these recruitment drives. A pilot can just walk-in and meet senior management guys and get appointment letter there itself," a senior executive from the industry told Moneycontrol. "The compensation, added the executive, is like a joining bonus."
While an executive close to IndiGo said that these events are a norm for the company, the roadshows gain importance because of the contrasting circumstances at the two airlines.
While IndiGo is facing a shortage of pilots, mainly captains, as it expands it fleet at a speed never seen in the domestic industry, Jet Airways is struggling to keep its flock together.
The distressed airline, which is urgently seeking a resolution plan to overcome serious liquidity crunch, has been delaying salaries to its pilots. At present, a major chunk of the December salary, and that of January and February are pending.
Jet Airways pilots had gone on a protest by wearing black band from March 1, but they had called it off in a sign of respect for Indian soldiers who lost lives in the skirmish with Pakistan.
Jet Airways has a debt of over Rs 8,000 crore, and has been forced to ground about 50 of its aircraft, and many of its pilots have got truncated monthly rosters.
Given Jet's troubles, IndiGo is hoping to woo some of its peer's pilots and make up for the shortage in its own operations.
The airline at present has 211 aircraft, adding 19 in the third quarter of the present financial year. While the airline has not disclosed how many more aircraft it will add in the fourth quarter, it may continue to expand its carrying capacity by about 35 percent.
But the expansion has created operational issues at the airline, which was forced to cancel flights after a hailstorm in the northern regions in February, brought to fore the shortage problem. While flights were initially delayed, the cascading effect led to cancellation of flights, sometimes over 100 a day.
The shortage is mainly of captains, and IndiGo has been trying to upgrade some of its junior pilots. But it's a time-taking process and the carrier has been forced to get expats.
With IndiGo trying hard to woo Jet's pilots, many in the industry recall the 'Kingfisher-times.'
Just before the Vijay Mallya-owned airline got grounded, many of its pilots were looking for greener pastures. And that time too, they were given attractive offers.
"Captains from Kingfisher were given three months salaries as 'Goodwill/commitment fee,'" recalls an executive from the industry.
But there was a condition. The pilots had to give in writing that they will "irrevocably" agree to join, "to prevent them from changing their minds if Kingfisher managed to get funds and was able to survive," recalls an executive.
Alas, that didn't happen.At Jet Airways though, add sources, most of the pilots seem to be hedging their options, and taking their time to come to a final decision. IndiGo, on the other hand, would want to hire as many as possible.