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Etihad ‘poaching’ Air India pilots?

etihad-2-1_650_010214083605According to reports in the UK and Indian media, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and its Indian partner Jet Airways are in touch with Air India pilots who fly wide-bodied Boeing 777 aircraft, and are offering them up to double their current wage. Etihad’s Rs.2,05800 million infusion into Jet Airways for a 24% stake was cleared by the Union Cabinet on October 3 last year.

Jet Airways vice-president (Human Resources) Dr Samar B. Srivastava and US-based agency AeroPersonnel Global hired by Etihad had individually invited 140 commanders of Air India who fly Boeing 777s to a roadshow on November 27 and 28 at Jet’s Andheri (East) office in Mumbai. The Jet/Etihad recruitment of Air India commanders began before the approved sale of five brand new Boeing 777-200s to Etihad on December 26 2013.

An email to AI commanders from Mike Ethridge, Director Recruitment, AeroPersonnel Global, on October 28, 2013 said, “The Etihad/Jet Airways investment has been signed and has been approved by five of the six Indian Government agencies reviewing the deal. The last governmental approval should completed within the next few weeks. This will bring close to half a billion dollars in the coffers of Jet Airways. Jet intends to add another five B777s starting in the last quarter of 2014. This is on top of the fifty B737 NG order announced last spring.”

Indicating that Jet/Etihad needs a further number of Boeing 777-rated pilots, the email said, “On the commercial side, the Turkish Airlines contract will end in June 2014. Starting in April 2014, Jet Airways will fly from Abu Dhabi to New York (JFK) on behalf of Etihad. If the number of interested crews is high enough, Jet intends to establish a base in New York and base crews there. It is likely the same could happen for Chicago but we do not know yet if this could be the case. Mumbai basing is also available.” The last paragraph of the email said, “As we need another eighty B777 candidates, do not hesitate to mention this opportunity to your friends and colleagues who could be interested.”