New Delhi: Despite the government asking all domestic airlines to reduce their dependency on foreign pilots, the number of expatriates flying for Indian carriers increased during the year 2018, data from the Ministry of Civil Aviation show. The total number of foreign pilots hired by scheduled and non-scheduled Indian airlines rose to 324 as of December 15, 2018, against 313 as of January 1, 2018. The number dipped to 298 as of August 9, 2018. This is despite a majority of airlines reducing their strength of foreign pilots during the period.
India’s largest carrier IndiGo, which now has more than 200 narrowbody aircraft employed the highest number of foreign pilots at 93, higher from 59 in August and 87 in January last year. The only other carrier that saw a rise in number of expatriate pilots on its roster during the 12-month period was Air India’s regional subsidiary Alliance Air at 66 in December, compared with 45 as of January 2018.
In his answer to a question in the Rajya Sabha last month, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said: “All airlines, scheduled and non-scheduled, have been advised to develop their own in-house strength to reduce the dependency on the foreign pilots. Airlines are required to submit their phase out plan of foreign pilots periodically. Further, the government has extended the use of foreign pilots by Indian carriers upto December 31, 2020 in view of shortage of type rated pilot-in-command/instructor/examiner in the country”.
Even as the number of foreign pilots has increased, it still comprises only a small part of the total pilot strength hired by Indian carriers. As of September 2018, IndiGo hired 2,697 Indian pilots, compared with 81 foreign pilots. Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline, had 28 foreign pilots as of September against 1,620 Indian pilots.
13/01/19 Indian Express