Airline operators mull over slashing pilots’ salaries

Kathmandu, April 7

Domestic airline operators are deliberating on reducing salaries of airline pilots and other staff by up to 80 per cent as they grapple with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Yog Raj Kandel, spokesperson for Airline Operators Association of Nepal, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the aviation industry hard, due to which airline operators took ‘the tough decision’ of cost management during a meeting held yesterday.

“The association has proposed cost cutting measures, including reducing salaries of airline staffers — primarily pilots and aircraft engineers,” he said. “We have sent the minutes of the meeting to the airline operators for their approval.”

He, however, said the operators could take decisions based on their losses.

“As the aviation sector is facing huge losses due to the coronavirus, AOAN has proposed the measures considering the survival of airline companies,” Kandel added.

The association has proposed slashing the monthly salary of pilots from more than Rs 5 lakh to anything between Rs 100,000 and Rs 175,000. Operators can add additional allowances as per their convenience, he added.

AOAN has proposed setting the monthly salary of aviation engineers to anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 75,000 from around Rs 150,000 that they get.

The Union of Trekking Travels, Rafting and Airlines Workers-Nepal — the largest trade union in the tourism industry — did not respond to repeated calls seeking comment.

Prior to this, airline companies had started urging employees to go on leave without pay as distributing salaries had become difficult.

Issuing a notice a month back, AOAN had said facilities being provided to staffers would also be cut.

The association had also requested the government to reduce the investment cost of airline companies by reducing the value added tax on spare parts and aviation turbine fuel. Operators had also urged the government to coordinate with Nepal Rastra Bank to refinance interest rates of their bank loans.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 08, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.