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AA_6EIn a move to keep its staff happy, IndiGo recently hiked the pay of its staff, including those of its captains, senior first officers, first officers, junior first officers, as well as cabin crew. While a captain’s gross pay has reportedly been hiked in the range of 15%, the cabin crew’s pay has close to doubled.

The salary hike is effective from the month of December, and serves to bring cheers to crew members who have, reportedly and apparently, felt that they have given the company their all, working to help push the airline to profits, but haven’t received a hike for “so many years”.

Many approachable, polite and fair-playing management pilots have apparently resigned, to the dismay of many pilots.

An IndiGo management pilot has moved to Air Asia India, making him the first IndiGo pilot to join the flight deck staff at the regional low cost carrier that is yet to start domestic operations in India.

“Leading” the change

IndiGo is a well performing airline, if one is to look at their load factors (the highest average in the country), their fleet, and the reported profits. All is well till competition sets in. Aditya Ghosh, CEO of IndiGo, had told Business Standard, “I don’t lose sleep over AirAsia”.

But there may be reason. Not certain, but strong, to lose sleep. Many pilots are willing to accept INR 20,000-30,000 lower gross pay per month, if they are promised a better work culture, in line with what Air Asia offers today, to its staff. Say many, if offered the same or even a slightly lesser salary, they’re willing to leave their airline for Air Asia, if they feel they can go to work happy.

To many line captains, happiness is worth more than approximately INR 4,00,000 per year. Finally, happiness has a price tag.

Aditya Ghosh is known to be dynamic. He is known to interact freely with his employees, and he set off a new trend in the Indian airline industry: being funny, sometimes witty, and doing many things pleasingly different.

With Mittu Chandilya stepping in as the face of Air Asia India, the spotlight is now shared and slowly shifting to an impressive former model who is seen with sport cars; among young students at universities of repute; playing cricket with his staff; personally attending certain cabin crew selections; first hand observing operations at the airline; promoting causes; and importantly, running his own Facebook page for fans to follow. While Aditya Ghosh’s spotlight-shyness is respected, Mittu’s emergence into the spotlight, not necessarily to talk about himself, sets the latter apart.

Infact, it propels Mittu’s image, and consequently the airline’s image, to a new level: run by confident, open men who love not fun, but loads of it, while not compromising on what matters: work, safety, and the people who run the airline. Whether this will actually translate into how the airline is run is hard to tell, yet, but most are willing to take the chance.

Feel many pilots: “ I’d want to work for, or be led by a dynamic, impressive man. Someone like Mittu Chandilya. He’s inspirational.”

It’s not just the money. It’s the promise of a satisfying, fair, and exciting work culture coupled with the dynamism of a CEO who’s a natural in pleasing and leading, possibly reflecting what the airline may turn out to be. Ofcourse, a lot goes into the operational success of an airline, but small yet important things like an impressive leader, and good work culture can help with staff loyalty, something which is definitely part of any company’s definition of success.