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Travel demand revival leads to staff poaching

New Delhi: The strong revival in travel has now led to industry biggies- who had laid off staff during Covid-poaching from each other to meet the increased demand. This phenomenon is being witnessed by both airlines and hotels, with the former trying their best to stop losing crew to Gulf carriers. As a result, they are now forced to take steps to retain talent by restoring pay cuts.
However, cautious optimism remains the keyword due to the continuing pandemic, crisis in Ukraine, increasing oil prices, and fears of a full-blown recession if Russia continues the war for a long period. Conscientious employers are giving the disclaimer that the restored cuts will depend on how the situation on all these fronts shapes up and how that impacts demand.
A cautious Vistara, for instance, last Thursday told pilots it will reinstate their monthly bonus component from April 1, 2022. "The current geopolitical tensions in Europe are a cause for significant concern and have already impacted our operations. The price of oil is now the highest it's been since 2008 and our Europe flights have been rerouted to avoid areas of potential conflict, resulting in increased flight times. Whilst we hope that the situation will stabilize.. (it) could, in fact, deteriorate further," Vistara senior VP (flight operations) Captain Hamish Maxwell said in a mail to pilots. He added that depending on the evolving situation things could change.
"Moving forward, we will continue to review the state of the aviation industry and the financial health of the company, and will make necessary adjustments to cost measures as and when appropriate," Captain Maxwell's mail adds.
A leading hotel player told TOI recently that during Covid some chains had laid-off staffers.
"Big Indian hospitality players had adopted a more humane approach during Covid with some even taking debt to pay salaries which were obviously deducted. Most of the foreign chains were ruthless in cutting headcount. Now as business picks up, they are poaching from us," said the hotel biggie.
A leading Gulf full-service airline has been taking cabin crew from Indian carriers, with the trained full-service crew being on its radar. A desi low-cost carrier saw many of its pilots line up to join a newly-privatized airline.
"The problem as we re-hi-re laid-off staffers is that not everyone is willing to come back. Some have either started a small business or got a job elsewhere. Now as capacity needs to be ramped up, hiring from each other by offering better pay often is the only option," said a senior travel industry official. Employees are not complaining.
"We hope more jobs open up. This serves those companies right that were heartlessly brutal in cutting payroll expenses during Covid. We have seen which companies treated their employees well and which used Covid as an excuse to be brutal in layoffs and pay cuts," said a senior pilot.

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