Vistara takes AirAsia India pilots on deputation to expand its fleet

To expand its fleet to include A320 aircraft, Vistara, owned by Tata-SIA, plans to hire pilots from budget airline AirAsia India to ensure adequate crew for its growing fleet. Both airlines are part of the Tata group and the last step points to efforts to have more synergy and optimal use of manpower between group carriers. Tata Group also owns Air India and Air India Express. AirAsia India operates a fleet of A320 aircraft. Vistara – a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines – has a fleet of 53 aircraft. These include 41 A320s and five A321s. The airline plans to expand its fleet to 70 aircraft by December 2023.

“Vistara has sought a number of AirAsia India pilots for deputation with a view to introducing new aircraft, a proposal that the budget carrier has agreed to,” said one of the sources on condition of anonymity. However, both Vistara and AirAsia India declined to comment on the matter. According to the sources, Vistara has expanded its Airbus fleet but does not have a sufficient number of pilots to operate them.

“The airline was counting on the huge pool of pilots created as a result of the pandemic, but the dynamic has now completely changed with a number of both serving and non-serving pilots taking the flight to the Gulf airlines, who additionally offer thicker pay packages. other benefits,” said one of the sources.

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The source also said Vistara had looked into hiring pilots from a Mumbai-based low-cost airline, but the plan didn’t work due to cancellation issues. Another source, on condition of anonymity, said that although AirAsia India has 27 aircraft in its fleet with about 400 pilots to operate them, the airline has not used more than 18-20 aircraft.

“With such a large fleet in operations, an airline would need no more than 240-250 pilots. As AirAsia India has no plans to take any new aircraft into service any time soon, amid talks of a possible merger with Air India Express, it leaves about 150-160 pilots in surplus,” the source said.

Further, the source said, after receiving the Vistara proposal, AirAsia’s management left it to the decision of the pilots and then took a call on how many of them should be sent on deputation.

Meanwhile, the Tata Group has started an exercise to evaluate options to consolidate AirAsia India and Vistara under Air India in order to bring operational synergies between the three airlines under its umbrella. Air India has set up a team in this regard under its Director of Operations RS Sandhu, sources had previously said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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