While airlines seldom reveal nationality-wise break-up of their cockpit crew, a few airlines operating the A-380 have said highly professional Indian pilots are flying the world’s most expensive plane for them.
According to a report from the Times of India, no Indian airline has the world’s largest commercial airliner – Airbus A-380, but over 60 Indian pilots are flying the mega-plane in the fleets of foreign carriers.
Dubai-based Emirates, which is the largest operator of the A-380, has 133 Indian pilots in all of which almost half fly the A-380. “We have 57 Indian A380 pilots and in total we have 133 pilots from India. Overall we have more than 4,000 pilots,” said an Emirates spokesperson.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said it has one Indian commander and four first officers flying the A-380. Overall, Indian pilots comprise 6% of the total cockpit crew of Etihad. According to the Airbus website, the average list price of an A-380 in 2018 is $445.6 million (about ₹2,910 crore) and the salary for flying these big birds is also mouth-watering.
An Indian pilot working with a domestic airline said, “While in overall terms, the salary may not seem too high compared to what pilots earn in India. But being tax free makes it really big for us.” Indian airlines face a monumental task in preventing their experienced pilots from being poached by Gulf carriers.