Low-cost carrier SpiceJet on Monday said it will retrain 90 pilots on Boeing 737 Max aircraft, days after the aviation regulator fined the airline for training pilots on a faulty simulator.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had last month imposed a ₹10-lakh fine on SpiceJet and barred its 90 pilots from flying B737 Max aircraft.
The company has now clarified that this restriction does not impact the operations of MAX aircraft and it has adequate trained pilots available for its operations.
"The company has 650 pilots trained on MAX aircraft and DGCA had an observation on the training profile followed for 90 pilots. As per the advise of DGCA, the company restricted these 90 pilots from operating MAX aircraft, until these pilots undergo re-training to the satisfaction of DGCA," the airline says in an exchange filing.
"Basis the observation of DGCA, these 90 pilots shall undergo re-training. DGCA has imposed penalty of ₹10 lakh basis its audit observations," it adds.
The Ajay Singh-led airline operates a fleet of Boeing 737s, Q‐400s & freighters and is the country’s largest regional player operating 63 daily flights under UDAN or the Regional Connectivity Scheme. The airline also operates a dedicated air cargo service under the brand name SpiceXpress.
This comes at a time when high aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices continue to dampen the industry earnings, with prices in May 2022 being higher by 89.2% on a year-on-year basis.
Rating agency ICRA continues to maintain a "negative" outlook on the Indian aviation industry, reflecting its view that the financial performance of Indian airlines is likely to remain under pressure in the near term as recovery in domestic passenger traffic to pre-Covid-19 levels is likely only by FY24.a year after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic severely hit air travel across the country.
The airline is also mired in legal battles. On January 11, the Madras High Court dismissed a stay sought by the airline that suggested its winding up. On January 28, the Supreme Court stayed the Madras HC order, and gave the airline three weeks to clear dues.
Last month, the airline concluded the settlement and consent terms with regard to the pending dispute with Credit Suisse AG. The settlement involves payment of a certain amount upfront and balance amount over a mutually agreed timeline. SpiceJet said it had already provided a bank guarantee of $5 million on the direction of the Madras High Court in the matter and there is no adverse financial liability on the company.
The settlement with Credit Suisse follows SpiceJet’s successful settlements with De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited (DHC), Boeing, CDB Aviation, BOC Aviation and Avolon, providing an impetus to normalisation, growth and expansion of the airline.
On May 15, some SpiceJet systems faced a ransomware attack that impacted and slowed down flight departures. The low-cost carrier later claimed that it has "rectified" the situation.