The troubles of Jet Airways just seems to be getting worse. In the latest, over 1,000 pilots of the struggling private carrier, following the airline failing to receive funds from the banks, have decided to go ahead with their “no flying” call from April 1, it’s pilot’s guild has said on Friday.
The National Aviators Guild (NAG), the body which claims representation of some 1,100 pilots at Jet Airways, had last week announced its decision not to fly from April 1 if their pending salaries were not cleared and transparency on the revival plan not provided by March 31.
Days after this announcement was made, the airline’s ownership was taken over by an SBI-led consortium of banks under a debt-recast plan.
Captain Karan Chopra, President, NAG, who had earlier said, “While we are optimistic about the interim investment, unless we hear from the management about salary payments, we will stick to our decision to not fly from April 1.”
Yesterday, in a late evening communication to his group members, Chopra wrote “A part of the expected interim funding from SBI was supposed to be actioned on March 29. Unfortunately, the fund transfer has not taken place, and there is also no update on salary payment from the management. The collective decision of pilots taken at Mumbai and Delhi open house effective 1 April prevails.”
Jet Airways has been facing a huge financial crisis, which has resulted in it being unable to pay rent for leased aircraft and interest on finances. Other than non-payment to creditors, the airline is also facing trouble in paying salaries, and they have not paid salaries to their pilots along with engineers, senior management and maintenance staff for the last four months.
However, a statement released by the Jet Airways spokesperson promised that every effort is being made to pay salaries and ensure normalcy of operations.
Earlier, the Jet Airways had to ground dozens of aircraft operated by the airlines over non-payment of lease rentals, resulting in the cancellation of flights. According to reports, a total number of grounded aircraft has reached around 60, which is approximately half of the fleet size of 119 planes.
Moreover, Etihad Airways, which owns 24% in Jet, was to infuse capital into the airlines to solves its financial crisis, but the talks are stalled over several disagreements. Etihad has not agreed to a debt resolution plan proposed by lenders of Jet Airways, led by State Bank of India.
Jet Airways has already defaulted in paying loans and it has informed that it will default in making more payments which are due this month. The Airline has a debt of more than 8400 Rs crores, which continues to rise as interest gets added to that.
In such a scenario, the maintenance and safety of flights can also be compromised.
Despite all these crises, Jet has continued to offer discounts and accept advance bookings from passengers which have forced the ministry to intervene.
The civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the secretary of the ministry to look into the matter and submit a report at the earliest. The minister said that the secretary is to hold an emergency meeting on the grounding of flights by Jet Airways and advance bookings, cancellation, refunds and safety issues of the airlines. The secretary will also have to get a report on compliance issues from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.