SpiceJet to hire up to 2,000 Jet Airways staff: Ajay Singh

Currently, SpiceJet has around 14,000 staff and a fleet of 100 planes. It is the fourth airline after Air India, now defunct Jet Airways, and IndiGo to have 100 aircraft.

SpiceJet plans to hire up to 2,000 staff, including pilots and cabin crew, of the defunct Jet Airways as the no-frills carrier continues to expand its operations. It has taken at least 22 planes that were earlier used by Jet Airways, which temporarily shuttered its operations due to a cash crunch in April.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, "We have taken a significant number of people from Jet Airways. They were well-qualified and professional people. We have taken around 1,100 people so far. The expectation is that we will go up to 2,000 people."

Currently, SpiceJet has around 14,000 staff and a fleet of 100 planes. It is the fourth airline after Air India, now defunct Jet Airways, and IndiGo to have 100 aircraft. The company has Boeing 737s, Bombardier Q400s and B737 freighters. It operates around 575 daily flights on an average to 62 destinations, including nine international ones.

On whether SpiceJet would look at operating wide-body aircraft that were earlier used by Jet Airways, Singh said the airline is right now focussed on a narrow-body fleet.

"Having said that, we recognise that there are gaps, which have been created. They need to be filled and in the longer term, if India is to be a global aviation hub, Indian carriers will have to fly long haul. It can't be only Air India. The models (of business) for us may be different... I am sure every carrier is trying to see what can be done," he said.

On May 28, SpiceJet posted a 22 percent rise in net profit to Rs 56.3 crore in the quarter ended March as higher fares helped the airline amid a capacity crunch in the domestic aviation market.

Singh said there is no plan to raise funds at the moment, adding that the airline is quite comfortably placed in terms of finances.

"We are going to expand 80 percent capacity this year (fiscal). A lot of it is being expanded through the leasing route. Therefore, it may not require a huge amount of cash. This year, we also expect to be significantly profitable and get significant cash flow through a sale-leaseback. So, we think that we probably don't need to dilute any equity," he noted.

The airline is looking to have an 80 percent capacity expansion in terms of Available Seat Kilometre (ASK), an indicator of seat capacity.

"We have very little debt in the company and the debt relates to Q400s we have on our books for the most part. We are in a healthy situation that we have very low debt," Singh said.

In 2015, SpiceJet placed a $22 billion order for 205 aircraft with Boeing and had followed it up with a $1.7 billion order for 50 Bombardier Q400 planes.

In other news, on Sunday, Singh was also elected to the board of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), less than three months after the airline joined the global grouping.

The new board of the global airlines' grouping would be chaired by Lufthansa Group Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr, who took charge after the conclusion of the IATA annual general meeting here Sunday. Spohr will be the Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year term.

In March, SpiceJet became the first Indian low-cost carrier to take membership of the IATA, a grouping of around 290 airlines. Other board members include Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Founder and former chairman of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal, who was associated with the IATA for a long time, was a member on the previous board. Jet Airways, which served the skies for more than 25 years, was forced to temporarily suspend operations in the wake of a cash crunch.


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