Vistara Crisis: Why Air India-Vistara Merger Has Led To Pilot Strike, Cancellations Of Flights

Vistara is finding itself in a turbulent ride ahead of its merger with Air India, owing to flight delays and staff discontent. However, the turbulence might not be limited to the former

The aviation industry has witnessed a turbulent ride since the post-pandemic period. Thankfully the ups and downs were like a part and parcel for aviation firms. However, in Vistara's case, the story seems different. The airline stood at 16th position in Skytrax World Airline Awards 2023 (often referred to as the Oscars of the aviation world), and was once a dominant player in India's skies, just behind IndiGo. But this week, Vistara found itself in a tough spot as over half of its flights were getting canceled due to growing dissatisfaction among crew members.

The blame is being put upon the upcoming merger with 'the Maharaja,' aka Air India. While Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan tried to address the concerns of its staff, it doesn't seem like the air will clear out anytime soon.

Its 'Complicated' before the merger

Back in 2022, Vistara bagged the second spot in India's aviation scene before falling down the ranks. Then came the big news of the company's merger with Air India in November of the same year, with Singapore Airlines getting a 25.1 per cent stake in the deal.

But even though this merger news isn't exactly fresh now, there's been a buzz of discontent among Vistara's pilots and crew members.

In Vistara's recent salary update, pilots are now being paid a fixed amount for a minimum of 40 flight hours, a decrease from the previous 70-hour requirement. As per a report by CNBC, this adjustment means their salaries could witness a decline from about $7,400 to $5,200 for the new 40-hour schedule.

Interestingly, despite more than 200 pilots not yet signing the new contract, their salaries have still been adjusted accordingly. On top of this, there have been complaints about problematic rostering practices as well.

Despite Air India's strong domestic reputation, 'the maharaja', has faced some setbacks. In a recent incident reported by Reuters, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had slapped a fine worth $95,658 on the company for exceeding flight duty time limits.

What's Now?

Some are calling the recent situation minor turbulence, labeling it as just an 'HR problem'. Earlier this week, Kannan had also connected with its employees over video conference, to address their concerns directly.

However, it is important to note that further flight cancellations and delays might continue, especially with reports around Air India crew joining Vistara's suit. If this issue continues to escalate, the focus might shift from Vistara to 'the Maharaja' itself.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Business & Money