Wings clipped, angry pilots stage overnight protest at airline office in Bengaluru

FLYEasy pilots seek refund of Rs 37 lakh training fee they had allegedly paid the company in 2015, refuse to withdraw protest until management speaks with them.

Published: 14th September 2017 03:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2017 01:31 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Naren Pillai (name changed), 32, is on the verge of selling his house to pay back a Rs 37 lakh loan he had taken from a bank to start a promising career in aviation. He claims he had been promised training and a job at FLYEasy, a low-cost airlines founded in 2014 to connect tier-II cities. Another pilot, 28-year-old Saahil More, says he has to travel from Mumbai to Bengaluru frequently to seek his refund.

On the night of September 13, four licenced pilots, who claimed to have paid the airlines, along with 34 others in 2015, held a protest at Shikha Developers’s office on MG Road, where FlyEasy shares office space . The airlines had to move out of their office space in Kempegowda International Airport. The pilots stayed overnight at the realty firm’s office on Wednesday, refusing to budge until the management talked to them in person.

Managing Director of FLYeasy, Rajesh Ebrahim, told Express the airlines did take that amount from the candidates but had paid 60 per cent of the employees despite the company’s financial crunch. “ About Rs 6 crore has already been used to pay the employees,” he said, adding that the company officials will meet the pilots on September 26. Bengaluru-based FLYeasy is part of ABC Aviation and Training Services. In 2015, 38 licenced pilots had been offered jobs with the airlines that was to start its operations that year. All the trainee pilots were asked to deposit a training fee of Rs 37 lakh within three days of selection. The students were split into four batches but only one batch received the training in Bahrain but those pilots claim that they were not given the certificate.

“The reason was that the airlines had not paid the flying institute they had hired,” said Prabhakar Thayumanavan, a 29-year-old licenced pilot. While five among them decided to fight it in court, the rest decided to negotiate with the company for “faster repayment”. Sahil said, “Any amount we receive now will be more helpful that what we would after three years of legal battle.” A letter offering a job, which would pay a monthly stipend of Rs 35,000, was sent to the candidates on June 5, 2015, but the pilots claim that they never got that amount.

What else is lost?

The pilots were also grieving over their lost opportunities and time. “Those who could ma nage to join other airlines left the company but those who could not afford to were stuck with the company begging for a refund,” said Prabhakar. “The career of a pilot is based on seniority that comes with flying-time records and our two years have gone,” Saahil said. “We would have been captains by now,” he added.

Investors backed out F

LYeasy had signed an agreement to buy 74 per cent stake in Air Pegasus in January 2017 but that too did not work out, said Rajesh Ebrahim, adding that the investors backed out. “I resigned from the agreement in March so now I am only in-charge of FLYeasy. We have invested about Rs 40 crore in the company since 2011 so we will figure out a way,” added Rajesh.

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