Many of the staff of the bankruptcy court-bound Jet Airways are facing the painful decision of a mid-career domain switch because they have failed to find jobs in the aviation sector in the two months since the airline shuttered operations on April 17. Some have been picked up by rival airlines and some have made a slight turn to enter aviation-related travel and hospitality industry, reports show.
However, many are still struggling with the prospect of having to develop new skill sets in unrelated domains. About 70 percent of the candidates have been placed in non-aviation sectors such as third-party logistics, facility management, and service industries, a report says.
India's first private airline that began flying in 1993 had about 16,000 employees when it ceased operations following a fund crunch and inability to repay overdue debt. At the time of winding up the operations, the airline owed banks Rs 8,000 crores and about half as much to operate and supply line creditors.
The State Bank of India-led lenders' consortium has decided to drag the airline that was once India's top carrier by market share to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) after talks with strategic partner Etihad Airways reached nowhere, dealing a massive blow to hopes of a last-gasp revival of the airline.
Though the exact number of former Jet employees who have found alternative jobs is no available, recruitment agencies say their job queries have been steadily falling, a report on the Mint website says. Rival airlines like SpiceJet, IndiGo, and Vistara were the first to take the plunge recruiting Jet staff, mostly pilots and engineers. It's the staff of the other domains who have found the going hard.
"It has been challenging for Jet Airways staff to get a decent job. First, they are not in an advantageous position as they are currently jobless, and second, most of the employees have been with Jet Airways for long years and have not upskilled themselves," the report quotes Naresh Sharma of recruitment firm Antal International as saying. "High performers have already been hired by other companies and those left behind are still struggling," he said.
The silver lining for the Naresh Goyal-founded Jet Airways staff prepared to bite the bullet of a career switch is that many companies have shown interest in hiring them. Companies in the services, FMCG and information technology sectors have also shown interest in hiring Jet staff, though they might need to invest in extensive retraining of the new recruits. Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) that operates the Taj chain of hotels has issued a notice inviting Jet employees to its fold, according to media reports.
"The number of calls from Jet Airways employees has reduced by about 50 percent in the last month. We understand that many candidates have been placed with other organizations especially in finance, operations, and HR roles," the report said quoting Sharma. "Operations, sales, and marketing are mostly the roles that we have seen Jet employees being absorbed in other sectors," the report quoted Rituparna Chakraborty, of TeamLease Services, a hiring firm, as saying.