Days before it resumes service, low-cost carrier GoAir has revised the salary structure of its senior pilots, many of whom will see a cut of over 50 percent in their pay.
For a few, depending on their flying hours, the cut could be as much as 65 percent. For instance, a senior captain could see his monthly gross salary plummet to Rs 2.5 lakh from over Rs 7 lakh.
This is probably among the steepest salary cut seen in the industry till now.
Along with the cut, the airline has also done away with some benefits, including variable allowance for flying more than 70 hours a month, deadhead allowance and incentive given during a layover.
Deadhead is when a crew or pilot travels to a destination to assume duty. He or she doesn't work on that flight.
In early May, GoAir promoters Nusli and Jeh Wadia had written to employees, stating that the airline has paid salaries to 40 percent of its employees, and the rest will be paid on a graded and deferred basis.
Moneycontrol has reached out to the company for a response, and the story will be updated once the carrier replies.
The steps come just a few days before GoAir resumes operations, on June 1. It was the only airline not to restart services on May 25.
While the airline said it was ready to resume operations, it had said: "GoAir awaits clarity on the readiness of the respective states and their airports with regard to acceptance of flights, or the conditions applicable to passengers entering the respective states."
It's market forces in play, says Shakti Lumba, an aviation veteran and former Executive Director, Airline Operations (Alliance Air), and Vice President, Ops (IndiGo).
"Market forces decide everything. Earlier, when demand exceeded supply, it resulted in unreasonably sky high salaries for pilots. Now the same market forces are effecting aviation adversely, including supply of pilots outstripping demand, resulting in salaries reducing to more reasonable levels.," he said.
"Besides pilots, all employment in aviation sector related to market supply and demand will see downward trend in salaries," Lumba added.
Starting pay for captains at GoAir, say industry executives, was about Rs 6.2 lakh and that for first officers, Rs 2.8 lakh. This was fixed for 70 hours of flying.
The new structure now has the pilots having a fixed gross salary, like a senior captain gets Rs 1.25 lakh a month. The rest of the pay depends on the flying hours. The amount increases with the flying hours. If a senior pilot flies up to 10 hours, then he will get Rs 2,400 per hour. That increases to Rs 14,400 per hour for the range of 61 to 70 hours of flying.
A senior first officer will have a revised gross salary of Rs 67,100 per month, with a similar graded pay for each hour of flying.
But with all airlines operating with just one-third of their schedule, or even less, till August 24, a pilot may not fly more than 40 hours a month, said a senior executive from the industry.
It could remain so even beyond August 24, with demand for travel expected to be subdued.
One positive for the pilots could be the 'benefit' on being quarantined after flight duty. GoAir has said that these pilots will be marked 'present' for the quarantine period.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here