Home INDIA Pilots Flag Burnout As Vistara Hopes For End To Crisis By Weekend: Sources

Pilots Flag Burnout As Vistara Hopes For End To Crisis By Weekend: Sources

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Pilots signal burnout as Vistara hopes crisis will end by weekend: sources

Vistara sources said only 24 flights were canceled on Wednesday, down from 52 a day earlier

New Delhi:

Hours after Vistara hinted at a likely end to the crisis and said flight schedules are expected to normalize this weekend, pilots have pointed to fatigue issues that could have a direct impact on safety. “Pilots are flying on the edge of their maximum flight limits. This is causing major health problems and everyone is getting sick regularly,” sources said.

Vistara saw an increase in flight cancellations as the airline faced a pilot shortage. An increasing number of pilots have called in sick to protest a revised salary structure ahead of the full-service airline’s merger with Tata-owned Air India.

Sources, however, denied “coordinating together and taking mass sick leave.”

“Everyone is just tired of flying. The new FDTL (Flight Duty Time Limitations) rules should have given us some relief, but as expected, that’s not happening,” she added.

Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA postponed the implementation of the revised mandatory flight norms for pilots, which would have come into effect from June 1. The revised standards have reportedly been postponed for some time due to wider consultations.

The new standards provide more rest time for pilots and attempt to reduce pilot fatigue.

Top airline officials, including CEO Vinod Kannan and senior members of its management team, held a virtual town hall with striking pilots on Wednesday evening where discussions were held on new contracts and scheduling issues.

Company sources said the pilots had been promised a course correction to allay concerns in the wake of the Air India merger. According to sources, this will include improved growth potential once the merger is completed, and better selection of pilots, which is expected to take place in May.

The pilots’ sources noted major health problems as a result of “flying near the limits of maximum duty restrictions” and said: “Everyone gets sick often. Pilots already exceed their maximum sick leave in a year and end up on leave without pay.”

They also criticized the airline for “trusting software more than their pilots”. “Pilots have complained to management about fatigue. Management trusts the Boeing Alertness Model (BAM) and says the flight is safe, so there is nothing to complain about. They trust software more than their pilots,” he said.

Everyone is “angry about the new contract, but we all knew it would come sooner or later,” they said.

Previously, company sources said nearly 100 percent of pilots accepted the new contract. Pilots expressed no protest during the virtual town hall, she added.

The airline had said on Monday that it had to cancel some flights due to the pilot shortage and was using some of its larger planes to “accommodate more passengers”.

Vistara sources said only 24 flights were canceled on Wednesday, down from 52 a day earlier

Pilots have complained that their cost to the company (CTC) was reduced in the new contract, which mandates them to fly 40 hours instead of 70 hours previously. However, sources said that under the new structure, pilots were incentivized to fly more and could earn more than before.

The Civil Aviation Ministry said yesterday it was monitoring developments as the aviation regulator sought daily information on flight disruptions from Vistara.

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