India’s largest airline IndiGo on Friday reinstated the flying allowance of its pilots to pre-pandemic levels as its flight operations are recovering.
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The airline will reinstate layover and deadhead allowances for pilots from July 31. However, the airline, which had made a partial reinstatement of salary for pilots, is yet to restore pre-covid salaries. Some allowances like night and over time allowances are also yet to be restored.
During a long flight, cabin crew and pilots often have to layover in other cities meaning they have to stay back in that city and are provided allowances and a hotel for the time they are there.
Similarly, a pilot or flight attendant who is deadheading on board a flight is one who is traveling to a destination to be repositioned as part of an on-duty assignment. Crew is paid allowances for that.
IndiGo had suspended all such extra allowances when flights were severely impacted including a two month-long shutdown due to the impact of Covid-19.
The airline also said that it was working on launching a Forex Card for crews and Zonal Employee Discount (ZED) through which airline staff can travel on discounted tickets on partner airlines.
ZED is a multilateral agreement, created in 1994 by Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Austrian Airlines and British Airways. These days, over 170 airlines are participating in this agreement. Employees of these airlines can fly with the participating airlines at reduced rates.
“We are hopeful that the distribution of Forex Card should begin in four weeks from now. We will transition crediting applicable international layover allowances into individual forex cards,” a memo to pilots, reviewed by Business Standard, said.
Pilots’ salary has become a thorny issue for India’s largest airline as pilots are unhappy with their pre-Covid salary not yet being restored in full.
Despite a partial restoration of salary hike, pilots remain disgruntled as IndiGo is currently operating more than 1,600 flights per day, which is higher than what it operated before Covid grounded travel.
However, senior executives of the airline pointed out that the number of flights is not an indicator that companies have regained their financial health
“We are in an inflationary environment, we have gone through a very difficult period, first off pay cuts and then not full restoration of pay. But I will say this, our heart is with the employees. We want to do the right thing for them, we would love to give them more pay raises so our heart is with them, but our head has to work in terms of let’s be profitable,” IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta said in a recent call with analysts.