Over the weekend of 8-11 February, IndiGo airlines canceled 75 flights and cited bad weather as the reason behind the same. However, the weather was nothing more than a cover-up. The real reason why the airlines canceled its flights is that it is running out of pilots. With its current schedules, the airline needs over 100 pilots just to be able to maintain their current roster. Moreover, until only 6 months ago, the airlines were facing a 30% shortage in pilots. Though that number has decreased a little, they are still way behind the number of captains they need. But, what led to such mismanagement at IndiGo? Let us find out.
IndiGo’s statement regarding why the flights were canceled!
In order to address the cancellation of 75 flights, Indigo airlines released the following statement “Due to a severe hailstorm in North India on Friday, February 7, 2019, 11 IndiGo flights were diverted. Consequently, this disrupted operations across our network the following day. As part of recovering our schedule, the positioning of the crew and aircraft had to be readjusted. As a result, a number of flights were canceled. We regret the inconvenience caused to our customers.”
In all fairness, there was a massive hailstorm in Delhi on Friday, with streets across NCR looking as though it had snowed on them. However, as stated earlier, the real reason for the chaos over the weekend was the shortage of pilots.
How vast is IndiGo’s shortage of pilots?
As one of the leading airlines in the country, IndiGo has been rapidly expanding over the last few years. This airline now has over 200 aircraft and 1,300 flights scheduled every day. While they currently have 3,000 pilots, the number falls short and pilots on standby are often dragged into flights instead of being given a day off. This leads us to the next big issue plaguing IndiGo at the moment: overworked pilots.
Pilots on 70 hours per month contracts made to fly over 100 hours!
Every pilot signs a contract with an airline that dictates how many hours he/she is required to fly in a single month. In India, the maximum flight hours are 125 per month. IndiGo’s shortage of pilots has an easy solution – hire more pilots. However, instead of that, the airline is choosing to overwork their pilots, making them work double the hours their contracts stipulate.
Although the pilots are being compensated for their troubles, most of them do not like being forced to fly as it interferes with their health. Needless to say, proper sleep and rest are essential for pilots so that they can make sharper decisions while in the cockpit. As a result of their increasing flying hours, many pilots are resigning because their bodies can’t take it anymore. As a consequence, there are instances where IndiGo has even asked pilots on their sick leave to fly.
This begs the question – what does this airline value more? A crash-free reputation or the revenue of a single flight?