Jet Airways crisis: 1,100 pilots decide not to fly

Jet Airways crisis: 1,100 pilots decide not to fly
The airline is currently sitting on a massive pool of debt to the tune of over Rs 8,000 crore. (Reuters)
Mumbai, Apr 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/14/2019 12:59:04 PM IST

Around 1,100 pilots belonging to the National Aviator’s Guild of India (NAG) have threatened to stop flying for cash-strapped airline Jet Airways.

“As on today, we have not been paid for nearly three-and-a-half months and we don’t know when we will be paid. So we have decided to go ahead with our call of no-flying from April 15,” a Guild source told PTI on Sunday.

Reports indicate that an urgent meeting has been called by the government after the pilots declared to stop flying from Monday, April 15, India Today reported. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Civil Aviation Secretary are expected to discuss the current situation of the airline with the government.

The government is expected to raise concern over operational setbacks and job losses at the airline. If all 1,100 go ahead with the strike, the airline would be left with just 500 senior engineers and qualified pilots.

There is widespread worry over the financial situation of the airline, as several employees including some pilots protested against the airlines on April 13 (Saturday) over non-payment of salary. The fate of the airline hangs in the balance as it has hardly any pilots nor aircraft left to sustain daily operations. Jet Airways has already cancelled all its international flights and has issued a statement confirming the same. Not only has the airline failed to pay full salaries to its employees for months but also defaulted on several payments.

The airline is currently sitting on a massive pool of debt to the tune of over Rs 8,000 crore.

Meanwhile, the Friday deadline for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) to bid for the airline has closed.

Naresh Goyal, who stepped down from the board of directors and lost his position as majority shareholder in the company, also bid for a stake.

Lead lender SBI has been looking for a new investor in the airline to acquire up to 75 per cent stake in Jet Airways. The lenders have reportedly decided not to release any more funds till an investor is identified.

As part of the rescue plan, the airline was supposed to get Rs 1,500 crore funding from the lenders including SBI; Rs 400 crore in the first tranche and Rs 1,100 crore in the second installment. On the contrary, the airline has received just Rs 200 crore, which it has already spent on fuel costs, partial salaries and payment to vendors.

Not just the airline but the journey over the past four-five months have been extremely hard for ground staff employees at the airline, who say they have been humiliated by passengers over the cancellation of flights. They also blame the management over for failing to pay salaries, which have several affected their financial wellbeing.

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