New Delhi: Leading Indian carriers have managed to prevail upon the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to withdraw a circular that would have further raised their costs of flying on international routes.
The DGCA had issued a draft circular issued on 17 June, in which it proposed to implement regulations that would necessitate any pilot of a wide-body aircraft, which are typically used for international flights, to have flying experience of at least 7,000 hours, including 2,000 hours on a jet aircraft and 1,500 hours on a wide-body aircraft on international routes.
The present regulations require pilots to have flown around 100 hours on a wide-body aircraft as a co-pilot on any route. As most Indian pilots do not have the experience of flying international routes, airlines would have had to employ expatriate pilots. Given their higher costs, these expats would have substantially increased the wage bills of the airlines, since an expat pilot typically costs over 100 per cent more than an Indian pilot.
DGCA's draft circular came at a time when the Indian carriers already implementing capacity rationalisations in their attempt to sustain operations, and are trying to reduce their wage bill replacing expatriate members of their staff with domestic talent. Airline losses are expected to double this year, with the anticipated losses in the range of Rs8,000 crore.