Mumbai: In a semblance of recovery in India’s aviation industry, some airlines have begun hiring as they expand fleet and network curtailed during the first few months of the pandemic.

Full-service carrier Vistara has hired more than 50 operational staff incrementally over the last few months as it has added five aircraft to its fleet, said an industry executive. IndiGo, too, is hiring across all functions.

Growth in demand, which has picked up pace in the last few months will, however, be slugging in the coming months, especially due to a spurt in Covid-19 cases and fresh rules of testing flyers for coronavirus as mandated by state governments. That will rein in expansion and hiring, said airline executives.

“While we have been taking measured steps towards growing our operations, we have also been hiring very selectively to address specific business requirements,” said a spokesperson at Vistara. “These have been mainly for select operational roles, replacements of voluntary exits, and strategic needs, etc. We plan to continue to invest in people resources in line with our expansion plans.”

The spokesperson said that while the domestic market has been gradually moving towards the pre-Covid levels, the airline got the opportunity to launch operations to six new international destinations under India’s travel bubble agreements with different countries.

“In a span of a few months, we launched Dhaka, Doha, London, Frankfurt, Sharjah and Male. We also inducted two new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, two Airbus A321neos and four Airbus A320neo aircraft to our fleet in the calendar year 2020,” the spokesperson said.

IndiGo is trying to get closer to its pre-Covid staff count.

“We started our gradual rehiring process in December 2020 and are now hiring across most functions at IndiGo and Agile (the airline’s airport services subsidiary),” said IndiGo’s head of HR, Raj Raghavan. “We are excited to get some of our old colleagues back in our fold, wherever feasible, in this process of rehiring.”

GoAir, another budget carrier, is hiring, too. A spokesperson for the airline said, “GoAir is continuously in the process of ramping up operations and has been adding capacity month-on-month. In this process we have identified requirements to cater to the increased operations. We have invited applications for type rated pilots for our fleet. We have over 4,100 employees who are actively engaged for operations. That number is expected to rise with increase in operations.”

With the increase in the domestic airlines capacity to 80% of pre-Covid levels in December 2020, from 33% in May 2020, the recovery in the domestic aircraft traffic has been gradual, reaching 73% of previous year level in January this year,

said in a note on Monday.

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