Jet pilots threaten to stop work from April 1, set March 31 deadline on bailout, salarieshttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/aviation/jet-pilots-threaten-to-stop-flying-from-apr-1-set-mar-31-deadline-on-bailout-salaries/

Jet pilots threaten to stop work from April 1, set March 31 deadline on bailout, salaries

The decision was taken at the annual meeting of Jet Airways domestic pilots body National Aviators Guild after a meeting here lasting for over 90 minutes.

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FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 passenger plane moves on the runway as a man walks past at an airport in New Delhi, India, August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

The umbrella body of the domestic pilots of the nearly crippled Jet Airways Tuesday threatened to stop flying from April 1, if the resolution plan is delayed and salary dues are not cleared by the end of this month, reported PTI. This decision was taken at the annual meeting of Jet Airways domestic pilots body National Aviators Guild after a meeting here lasting for over 90 minutes.

The National Aviators Guild comprises at least 1,000 domestic pilots at the airline. “If there is no proper clarity on the resolution process and salary payments, by March 31, we will stop flying from April 1,” the guild told PTI.

After the management couldn’t give them any assurance on salaries, the guild wrote to Union labour minister Santosh Gangwar last week seeking his intervention. The pilots and other senior staff have not been getting their full salaries since December.

Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu Tuesday, in the meantime, directed his the secretary to hold an emergency meeting
on the debt-ridden airline that has been cancelling flights abruptly following grounding of a large part of its fleet.

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Situation around cash-strapped Jet Airways ‘dynamic’

Aviation safety regulator DGCA described the situation surrounding the cash-strapped Jet Airways as “dynamic”, saying that the carrier currently has 41 flights for operation and that there may be “further attrition” of flights “in coming weeks”.

“The DGCA reviewed the performance of Jet Airways on operational, airworthiness & passenger facilitation today. Current availability of aircraft in the fleet for operation is 41 and accordingly scheduled for 603 domestic flights and 382 international flights has been drawn. However, it is a dynamic situation and there may be further attrition in coming weeks,” the DGCA said in a statement.

In a statement to PTI, a senior DGCA official said: “We have not issued any diktat to the airlines. We have just advised them that they should increase their capacity to keep airfares in check.”

The DGCA statement came in the wake of aircraft drastically reducing its operations due to liquidity crunch. For the past few weeks, passengers have been venting their frustration on social media as the airline’s flight cancellations have increased gradually due to the rising number of grounded aircraft. Grappling with financial woes, the beleaguered-carrier has been looking at ways to raise fresh funds.

Moreover, after the DGCA grounded all 12 of SpiceJet’s 737 Max aircraft on March 13 following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157 people, the problem of rising airfares in Indian market has aggravated.

Banks may infuse funds provided major shareholders pledge shares

Banks are likely to infuse fresh funds into cash-strapped Jet Airways provided major shareholders of the airline, including Gulf carrier Etihad Airways, pledge their shares as collateral, PTI quoted sources as saying. With the airline unable to get fresh funds, the options are limited now, they added.

The full service carrier is grappling with acute financial woes that has resulted in grounding of a significant number of planes, defaulting on debt repayments and delay in payment of salaries to pilots and other senior officials.

(With inputs from PTI)