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Airline crews begin to feel the heat  Nov 09, 2008

New Delhi - Nearly 150 trained pilots holding commercial licences and hundreds of airhostesses have been rendered jobless, as the economic slowdown is forcing airlines to either ground a significant part of their staff. But the hardest hit are those firms which train people to become pilots and flight attendants.

“There’s a long waitlist to the cockpit,” says aviation analyst Gurcharan Bhatura. What is more alarming is the fact that employment rate is expected to shrink 40-50% from last year’s levels, and no one expects a turnaround in the near future.

Says Randip Rana, director at the pilot training school set up by United Aviations: “Last year, 84 students had undertaken training, but this year, the number has come down to 18. We have reduced our expenditure by a third and resorted to cost cutting measures like do without temporary instructors.”

The pilot training institutes in India produce a total of 500 commercial pilots. Nearly 10,000 flight attendants are churned out every year from air hostess academies. The fee for the pilot training course is anywhere between Rs 22 lakh and Rs 25 lakh per student while that for an air hostess is around Rs 1.5 lakh.

Says captain Karan Singh, director of Euro Pacific Aviation: “Around 50 students have passed out of our institute, and it would be a real challenge for us to provide placements to them during this period of downturn.”

Airline crews begin to feel the heat
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