Forfeit all experience to join us: How Jet Airways has put JetLite pilots in a fix

Jet Airways has begun the process of integrating JetLite pilots, but close to 250 pilots of the LCC subsidiary, which Jet wants to shut, are now in a quandary.

Jet Airways has asked them to apply for positions in its fleet but clearly said in a communication that the hours they logged for JetLite will not be taken into account while calculating their total experience. In others words, though Jet Airways says that while their seniority will be maintained, the pilots of ill-fated JetLite are sure to suffer a blow to their careers.

In a communication to JetLite pilots dated 19 August, the Jet management has said "the selected pilots shall be placed at the bottom of the 9W (code for Jet Airways) APL within the relevant grade.Irrespective of the above, as far as 9W APL is concerned, the S2 pilots would have deemed to join services of 9W on August 19, 2014. S2 (code for JetLite) pilots who would be moving to 9W will maintain their current S2 inter se seniority irrespective of their joining 9W services".

The letter further said that the trainer status and applicable benefits of cockpit crew as applicable in S2 (JetLite) will not be carried to 9W (Jet Airways).

JetLite has been bleeding its parent for years. As of March 2014, it posted significantly higher losses than the previous fiscal, and auditors warned of negative net worth. JetLite's losses stood at almost Rs 430 crore as of March this year, up from Rs 295 crore in the previous fiscal. Till March, JetLite had an all Boeing fleet of 12 aircraft, comprising 5 Boeing 737-700, 5 Boeing 737-800 and 2 Boeing 737-900 ER aircraft.

Jet Airways' Chairman Naresh Goyal recently said that he plans to withdraw from the LCC space. There has been speculation about him wanting to eventually sell off JetLite, but the airline has never confirmed its plans to sell the subsidiary.

Some aviation industry watchers say it is possible that Jet would offer the SOP (scheduled operating permit) of JetLite to a potential buyer, minus the aircraft and crew. But why would anyone want to buy only JetLite's SOP?

This loss making subsidiary of Jet has the permission to fly overseas and this may attract a potential buyer, specially a new entrant whowants to fly overseas without having to wait for the five year deadline which current rules impose on new carriers.

But meanwhile, it is the pilots ofthe low cost carrierwho must either forego all their experience on the JetLite fleet or seekalternate employment. The letter from Jetmakes it clear that they must take a decision either way by 29 August.

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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2014 17:36:55 IST