SpiceJet maintaining an interim fixed pay system; some pilots report wage cuts
Low-cost carrier SpiceJet, which had resorted to hourly wages for pilots amid the pandemic, said on Sunday it had introduced a new “interim fixed wage system” for captains and first officers.
The airline said that not only will pilots’ salaries “increase dramatically” under the new pay structure, but those who fly more than the stipulated minimum number of hours will be paid overtime.
However, some pilots took issue with the assurance given by SpiceJet and claimed “stress” because of the continued reduction in their wages implemented in April of last year.
The pilots claimed they were receiving a third or half of their pre-COVID-19 wages despite the company having achieved an occupancy rate of over 85% on passenger flights and was among the largest air cargo carriers during the pandemic.
The Gurgaon-headquartered airline said it had adopted a “pay-per-hour system” after the COVID-19 outbreak as of April 1, 2020, in which pilots were paid on the basis of the hourly flight rate without having to send anyone on “unpaid leave”.
“While many other airlines and organizations have severed their employees’ contracts during the pandemic, there have been no layoffs at SpiceJet,” a Spicejet spokesperson told PTI.
“The migration to the pay-per-hours model was to be short-lived. However, the second wave of COVID-19 delayed the implementation of our ‘normal’ salary structure,” the spokesperson said.
A tentative “fixed salary system” from September 1, 2021 has now been implemented to offer better payment, SpiceJet said two days after sending an email to all pilots announcing the change.
The goals of the new system, he said, are to have a pay structure that reflects fixed salary elements and other relevant elements.
It will also allow the payment of a fixed minimum wage to all available pilots and those who fly more than the stipulated minimum hours will be paid overtime, he added.
“The company will pay a higher amount under the interim fixed salary system and this has been done with the welfare of the larger community of pilots in mind,” SpiceJet said.
Challenging the company’s claims about the layoff, a SpiceJet insider said dozens of expatriate pilots, including captains, and some Indian pilots, who had resigned, were fired shortly after the outbreak.
“Expats were hastily fired while Indian pilots were not even asked to reconsider their resignation decision. That doesn’t usually happen,” one pilot said on condition of anonymity.
Another senior pilot said: “In addition to the hourly payments, we were promised a fixed monthly salary when salaries were restructured in April of last year. This fixed salary was much lower than what a captain normally receives and a first officer. “
“However, we never had that fixed salary. Now that’s a huge amount for many of us that’s on hold. The company also never mentions it in person or in emails. – never made any money, ”he said.
He added that many are stressed because of this continued reduction in pay. “Some of my colleagues have left the company due to financial pressures, while others are struggling to make ends meet.”
Responding to this claim, the SpiceJet spokesman said there were “no huge backlogs pending.”
All pending payments are kept as “past due” and are paid in installments, the spokesperson said.
Several pilots from different regions that PTI spoke with denied having received any such backlog or any part of it to date.
They also claimed that overtime pay under the new structure will also mean that those who steal more hours will end up receiving lower wages than they previously received in the hourly system.
However, SpiceJet refuted this claim, calling it “virtually impossible” and an attempt “to mislead and distort the facts”.
“Under the new structure, over 90 percent of pilots will receive a higher salary compared to the existing hourly payment structure,” he added.
He added that with the gradual increase in the total number of flying hours, all pilots will receive a much higher salary in the new structure.
Another pilot, who is in his thirties, said: “If you talk to the people in charge of the company, they will always confuse you with technical details and statistics. Just educate yourself on the condition of the pilots and how they handle it. electromagnetic interference, household expenses, etc. “
“We have lost our seniority (salary structure based on professional experience)”, he added.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)