Alliance Air accuses IndiGo of poaching pilots with 'open offers'

New Delhi: Budget carrier IndiGo has allegedly made attempts to poach pilots and technical staff from airlines operating ATR aircraft after announcing plans to procure 50 turboprop planes with an aim to serve tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

According to Alliance Air CEO CS Subbiah, several of its senior officers have been approached with "open offers" asking them to "quote a price". Those who were made the offers include head of three teams at the Alliance Air, an Air India subsidiary.

According to industry sources TruJet pilots have also been made "lucrative" offers. IndiGo has, however, rubbished the allegations. "We haven't approached anyone yet," said IndiGo spokesperson Ajay Jasra.

"Yes, there has been a spate of approaches to many of our technical staff, engineers and pilots, which is not a very ethical step for any carrier to take. They should enter the market on their own strength and not on the strengths of their competitors," Subbiah told PTI.

Last week, IndiGo had announced it will procure 50 ATR 72-600 planes 20 of which are likely to be inducted by December 2018. The carrier also hopes to launch its turboprop operation by December 2017.

Alliance Air, too, has plans to expand its fleet in order to participate in the government's UDAN scheme that seeks to connect tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The airline plans to triple its fleet of 10 ATRs by the end of this fiscal. It has nearly 100 pilots in its team.

The CEO of Alliance Air said attempts by IndiGo to poach its staff is a threat to PM Modi's regional connectivity scheme. "It has taken us more than three years to build a resource-based airline and we are progressing on that front because we are sure the regional connectivity will be a success.

If by poaching from other carriers it (IndiGo) disrupts the whole regional connectivity scheme, then it needs to stop," Subbiah said. The CEO also added that regulatory authorities were seized of the matter.

It takes nearly four months and costs approximately Rs 24-25 lakh per pilot for ATR-type rating training. With readily available trained pilots, IndiGo will save on both time and money needed to equip them and other technical staff with skills to operate the ATR planes. IndiGo so far has a single configuration fleet comprising A320s.

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