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Indian airlines must offer enticing packages to recruit the right people during a cockpit crisis. But will it be enough to address the pilot shortage as the country sees record aircraft orders?

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Tata Group-owned Air India’s low-cost carrier subsidiary Air India Express has hired over 280 pilots and 250 cabin crew during a recent recruitment drive conducted across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Approximately 300 pilots participated in the selection process conducted during the drive, the airline said. Air India Express said it has been actively focusing on strengthening its workforce since October last year, targeting vacancies for pilots and cabin crew members. In addition to the major metros, the airline has also been conducting walk-in recruitment drives in other cities and towns for cabin crew aspirants to meet the growing demand of its operations. Mainline carrier Air India also recently announced that it would be hiring more than 1,000 pilots, including captains and trainers, to support its fleet expansion plans. Air India Express’ hiring move comes during a turbulent period as crisis-hit carrier Go First becomes the second airline — after Jet Airways — in the past three years to halt operations. Recently, Go First was granted bankruptcy protection after it plunged into a financial crisis, sparked by what it called “faultyPratt & Whitney engines that grounded about half of its 54 Airbus A320neos.

The Embassy of Georgia to India has announced the opening of an e-visa facility for Indian nationals to make Georgia more accessible to Indian travelers. The facility allows applicants to fill out an online form and upload the necessary documents, which will then be securely verified by the embassy. All applications will be processed within five business days of submission. Recently, Saudi Arabia also began to implement an e-visa service for Indians, thereby eliminating the traditional visa sticker system on passports. Now only a QR code needs to be read to extract the visa details. Earlier in March, India had restored e-visa services for Saudi nationals wanting to visit the country.

Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has signed a franchise agreement with Chalet Hotels — which owns, develops and operates hotels in India — for its upcoming hotel at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3. Chalet Airport Hotel will operate the 400-key hotel under the Taj brand. With this addition, IHCL will have 15 hotels across all its four brands — Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta and Ginger — across the National Capital Region including three under development. “This signing is in line with IHCL’s vision to expand its footprint in gateway cities. With this addition, the Taj brand is now present in the country’s largest airports — Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL. The company, which has a portfolio of 263 hotels, is well on track to achieve a total of 300 hotels by the financial year 2025-26.

Online travel company MakeMyTrip has announced that it has achieved its highest-ever annual gross booking value and adjusted operating profit during fiscal 2023. Calling a robust recovery year for the Indian travel industry, the company has witnessed consumer sentiment improving with each successive quarter. Its gross booking value for the year was $6.6 billion, a growth of 122 percent, while adjusted operating profit for the year was $70.3 million, growing to over 200 percent as compared to fiscal 2022. While the profit for the fourth quarter was $5.4 million, as compared to a loss of $4.1 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, MakeMyTrip still suffered a loss of $11.2 million in fiscal 2023 compared to a loss of $45.6 million in fiscal 2022.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo has inducted its second Boeing 777 aircraft on damp lease, which will operate to and fro on the Mumbai-Istanbul route, effective May 17, the airline said in a release. The Boeing 777 aircraft has the seating capacity of 400 passengers in a dual class configuration with 24 business and 376 economy class. IndiGo has been operating its first wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft on the Delhi-Istanbul route, which started from February 1 this year. These aircraft have been introduced to cater to the rising demand for international travel from India. IndiGo has been adding connections to European destinations over the last few months through its codeshare arrangement with Turkish Airlines — with the most recent codeshare connection to Edinburgh via Istanbul

Eco-friendly boutique hotel chain Stotrak Hospitality has unveiled its latest property ‘Takhat Villa Kumbhalgarh by Stotrak’ at Kumbhalgarh in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. This is the third property of the brand in the state after the Earth Resort & Spa in Ranthambore and Sam Dunes in Jaisalmer. “At Stotrak Hospitality our endeavor has always been to capture the essence of the town’s rich history as well as its vibrant culture. Our private luxury villas embody traditional architecture, designed with local Kota stone and adorned with antique furnishings,” said Manish Goyal, founder of Stotrak Hospitality. The company has a portfolio of nine hotels in India, with six located in Uttarakhand and three in Rajasthan. 

Pilots at cash-strapped airline Go First have sought the Indian government’s help — after months of delayed salaries and other pending matters amid the airline’s bankruptcy — to allow them to take up new jobs without serving long notice periods. A 2017 rule from Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation mandates pilots to serve a one-year notice period, and co-pilots six months, saying it is in the public interest to avoid sudden departures that can result in last minute flight cancellation and travel disruption. Go First was granted bankruptcy protection last week, but many pilots have been looking for new jobs in light of the crisis and earlier this month flocked to a hotel for Tata Group-owned Air India’s walk-in interviews. 

Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Scoot is running a network sale in India until May 20. Customers in Amritsar, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirappalli and Visakhapatnam can plan trips in advance to 17 destinations in Southeast Asia and East Asia, with airfares starting as low as $75. For travels until August 31, 2023, customers can choose from various destinations across Scoot’s networks including Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. Offering cabin classes and inflight experiences at discounted value, Scoot customers can opt for an upsized experience on ScootPlus for more comfort.

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Tags: air india, chalet hotels, georgia, india, Indian Hotels Company, indigo, makemytrip, scoot, skift india report, visa

Photo credit: Air India Express has been focusing on strengthening its workforce since October last year. Denis Noonan / Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/54878070@N02/49040364761/ Denis Noonan / Air India Express B737-800

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