ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines is likely to see a shortage of pilots around March 2023 as many trained local pilots working in the national carrier are moving for lucrative offers in Qatar Airways and Emirates amid an unprecedented economic crisis and tax hikes, sources who are aware of the move said.
“We may see an over staff in December before suffering a shortage around March 2023,” a source who is aware of the migration told EconomyNext.
“The pilots have been joining both Qatar Airways and Emirates since the crisis was on. However, many pilots have now started applying for job vacancies in these two airlines after the latest tax hike proposal,” the source said.
Officials at SriLankan Airlines were not immediately available for comments, but an official said the national carrier is in the process of returning six A320-300 to the owner after the end of lease period, but the airlines expected to lease at least six again in the near future. The official who did not want to be named also said only “a few” pilots have joined the Middle Eastern carriers so far.
A second source who is close to pilots said the removal of six flights will create an over staff in December.
“But nearly 40 pilots are facing interviews to join one of these airlines,” the source said adding that at least 20 percent of of the over 200 pilots in SriLankan is expected to leave.
“Most of these pilots will leave before March 2023.”
Many pilots have been looking for a break since the unprecedented economic crisis started early this year in Sri Lanka, the sources said.
“With the tax hike, pilots will have to pay over 30 percent tax and salaries in Middle Eastern airlines are tax free,” the first source said.
The Sri Lankan government revealed the new tax hike proposals last week which will see individuals who are earning more than 100,000 rupees being taxed as high as 36 percent after certain tax slabs.
In February this year, SriLankan Airlines pilots held a “Fly for Roster” campaign where they stopped working on off days demanding quick solutions to their grievances including lower dollar exchange rate used to calculate their salaries.(Colombo/Oct17/2022)