Tata-owned Vistara is cutting back on flights by 25-30 daily departures, or roughly 10 per cent of its capacity. This adjustment aims to return to pre-April flight levels and create a buffer in pilot schedules following recent disruptions.

Over 150 Vistara flights have been cancelled since April 1 due to pilot dissatisfaction with rosters and a new salary structure.  A Vistara spokesperson said on Sunday, “We are carefully scaling back our operations by around 25-30 flights per day, i.e., roughly 10 per cent of the capacity we were operating. This will take us back to the same level of flight operations as at the end of February 2024, and provide the much-needed resilience and buffer in the rosters.”

The spokesperson added, “These cancellations have mostly been done in the airline’s domestic network and ‘much ahead of time’ to minimise inconvenience to the customers.”

Vistara has apologised to passengers for the recent disruptions and claims all affected passengers have been rebooked on other flights. The airline anticipates a full merger with Air India by mid-2025.

Vistara pilots have raised concerns about work-life balance, fatigue and pay. These issues mirror complaints from pilots at other Tata airlines, IndiGo and Akasa.

The recent amendment to pilot work-hour regulations, intended to improve pilot well-being, has been deferred by aviation authorities due to airline opposition. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had amended the flight duty time limitation (FDTL) norms for pilots of Indian carriers to ensure more humane rostering. However, airlines, including Vistara, argued that implementing the amended norms would increase their pilot requirement and hence wage bill, leading to the deferment.

Vistara’s new salary plan offers pilots a fixed salary for 40 hours of flight time, with additional compensation for exceeding that threshold and a service-based bonus. This aligns with Air India’s pay structure in preparation for the merger. Vistara has responded partially to pilot concerns, but as the spokesperson said, there’s not much it can do about pay cut as the wage structure has to be brought at par with Air India with which it will be merged into by next year.