This Article is From Apr 15, 2019

SBI Holds Interim Funding As Jet Pilots Appeal To PM To Save 20,000 Jobs

According to the management, Jet Airways needs an immediate infusion of Rs 1,500 crore

SBI Holds Interim Funding As Jet Pilots Appeal To PM To Save 20,000 Jobs

Jet Airways international operations have been suspended till April 18.

On a day when pilots of Jet Airways gathered at the airline's headquarters in Mumbai hoping for the revival of India's premier private airline, the interim funding for the carrier is not coming in immediately. According to the management, Jet Airways needs an immediate infusion of Rs 1,500 crore to get its planes back in the air and restore some of its key sectors to start generating revenue.

Commenting on the development of holding interim funding and the revival of the airline, an SBI spokesperson said, "The Bid Process for orderly sale of equity in Jet Airways is currently being run by SBI CAPS and is being vetted by the legal team. The prospective bidders will be shortlisted  by SBI CAPs shortly."

"The proposed equity conversion by banks, if any, will be undertaken as a transitory mechanism to facilitate the bidding cum sale process," the statement added. 

Gathering this morning at the company headquarters in Mumbai, the pilots affiliated to the National Aviator's Guild, appealed to the Prime Minister to save the airline to ensure growth, jobs and the survival of the airline. 

Captain Asim Valiani, a senior commander with the airline told NDTV, "We want to appeal to the honourable PM to please intervene and make sure that SBI releases those Rs 1,500 crore that was promised to us. We were assured that if those conditions were met but the management those fund would come in. Those have been met now and we are just waiting to see those funds come in so that 20,000 jobs which are at stake can be saved.”

The airline operated 44 flights on Monday with seven aircraft across the country.

Jet's international operations have been suspended till April 18. In December last year, Jet Airways operated around 560 flights daily with 115 aircraft but that number started shrinking as the funds dried up. 

Time has been running out for the airline and after a marathon meeting that remained inconclusive, State Bank of India announced that, "SBI is acting on behalf of the group of lenders as part of the Bank Led Resolution Process. Necessary support to facilitate the process is being extended by the banks in the consortium. Cooperation by and support from all the other stakeholders will be the key to the success of the process." 

Pilots say if the emergency infusion of cash does not happen, the airline would have to halt operations in a couple of days. "I doubt if we can stretch it. We have been made to understand that if these funds do not come in today we might not be flying next week and in a couple of days there will be no Jet Airways," Captain Asim Valiani told NDTV. 

For Jet Airways to survive, it needs to clear dues of fuel companies, aircraft lessors and make other pending payments along with salaries immediately and the proposal to infuse the funds in tranches may not help the situation at all. 

"Pilots, engineers and managers have around a backlog of three and half months. This month even other ground staff and cabin crew haven't been paid. Aviation industry and aircraft are a perishable commodity and a daily infusion is not going to work and we are requesting that the entire quantum is infused at once," Captain Parikshit Joshi, a pilot with the airline added.

Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube addressed the issue in a letter to employees of the airline. "As you are aware, we have been working with the lenders to secure interim funding for our operations. The interim funding has not been forthcoming thus far, and as a result of this we have extended cancellation of international operations through Thursday, April 18," Mr Dube said in the letter.

"Please note that the current status of our engagement with the lenders and other related matters shall be placed before the Board in the meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning, where the Management will seek guidance from the Board on the next steps forward. We will keep you updated on all critical developments," Mr Dube added in the letter.