Jet Airways unions defer strike plan

Mae Love
April 17, 2019

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Friday stepped in to assess Jet Airways' financial situation as the cash-strapped airline suspended its global operations till the weekend after further reduction in its fleet size.

Speaking to the BBC one pilot said, "We haven't been paid for the last four months".

The airline on Thursday operated only about 14 aircraft, down from 26 last week, inviting government scrutiny over Jet's regulatory compliance for global flying. India's ailing Jet Airways has drastically reduced operations amid talks with investors to purchase a controlling stake in the airline and help it reduce its mounting debt. It has also suspended global operations till Monday afternoon.

As many as 1,000 pilots of the union, National Aviator's Guild (NAG), will meet on Monday morning to decide on whether the pilots will fly or not, due to non-payment of salaries. Pilots, engineers, and ground staff who have not been paid for three months and have said they will call for a strike if the banks do not inject emergency funds.

Last week Thursday Jet Airways reportedly grounded another 10 planes due to unpaid leasing fees.

Since January, it has not been able to pay salaries to pilots and maintenance engineers.

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After creditors started taking claim of aircraft owned by Jet Airways, they have cancelled all global flights till Monday.

Following complaints by passengers of lack of information on cancellation and non-receipt of refunds, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had on Friday said that the Centre had asked Jet Airways to inform passengers 48 hours in advance about flight cancellations and take their problems into consideration. Jet Airways independent director Rajshree Pathy quit on Saturday, the airline said in an exchange filing.

It however deferred the strike in view of a critical meeting between the airline management and the SBI.

The SBI-led consortium is trying to find a buyer for Jet, which, until recently, was India's second-biggest airline by market share.

Saddled with more than $1.2 billion of bank debt, the airline has been teetering for weeks and has yet to receive a loan of about $217 million from its lenders as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.

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