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Vistara cuts flights by roughly 10% to address pilot dissatisfaction

The Indian air carrier Vistara is reducing its capacity by roughly 10%, resulting in the removal of up to 30 daily departures. This decision was made to address the dissatisfaction among the airline’s flight crew regarding intense duty rosters and a new salary structure.

As of April 7, 2024, Vistara has canceled more than 150 flights, mostly affecting the domestic air carrier’s network. Typically, the airline operates around 350 flights per day.

“We are carefully scaling back our operations by around 25-30 flights per day, i.e., roughly 10 percent of the capacity we were operating. This will take us back to the same level of flight operations as at the end of February 2024, and provide the much-needed resilience and buffer in the rosters,” a Vistara spokesperson told The Hindu Business Line.

“We have temporarily reduced the number of flights we operate and also deployed larger aircraft like our B787-9 DreamlinerTM and A321neo on select domestic routes to accommodate more customers, wherever possible. […] The situation has already improved, with our on-time performance increasing to over 80%,” the carrier wrote in a public statement.

The airline explained that flight cancellations were initiated in response to concerns raised by its pilots regarding fatigue, the new salary structure, and work-life balance. Pilots allegedly began taking sudden sick leave as an expression of their dissatisfaction with the changes. This updated framework provides flight crew with fixed compensation for a minimum of 40 flight hours, compared to the previous minimum requirement of 70 hours.

Under the previous arrangement, pilots reportedly received identical pay regardless of whether they flew 10 or 70 hours, despite the minimum requirement being 70 hours. However, with the implementation of the new structure, salaries will allegedly decrease from approximately $7,400 (based on 70 hours but not consistently enforced) to $5,200 for a strict 40-hour schedule.

The new salary structure aligns with Air India’s pay scheme in anticipation of the impending merger.

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