- Jet Airways pilots and engineers have not been paid for 3 months
- Jet Airways owes around $1.2 billion to banks
- Over 1,100 pilots will meet to discuss the situation
The proposed strike by pilots and engineers of the cash-strapped Jet Airways was deferred at the last minute today in view of a meeting today between the airline management and the State Bank of India, the National Aviators Guild -- the Union for Jet Airways' pilots -- said. The two sides have been discussing a Rs.1,500-crore loan since last month as part of a rescue deal. Though the loan has been approved, the funds are yet to be released.
Earlier yesterday, more than 1,000 pilots and engineers of the cash-strapped airline had decided to stop flying from midnight, in effect grounding the airline. They had not received any salary for more than three months, a senior official of the National Aviators Guild, told NDTV. Over 1,100 pilots are meeting in Mumbai today to discuss the situation.
Urging the government to step in, Captain Karan Chopra, head of the National Aviators Guild, said, "Unemployment is an election issue... In another day or two, more than 20,000 people in Jet Airways can be unemployed".
A spokesperson of Jet Airways said the "operations would be unaffected" by the National Aviators Guild strike. The airline, which used to operate 119 aircraft before its troubles started, has a very curtailed schedule. "Seven aircraft will remain in operation, which will be flown by pilots who don't belong to the Guild," the airline said. Management sources told NDTV that 60 per cent of its pilots are not part of the Union.
Saddled with more than $1.2 billion in bank debt, Jet Airways stopped most of its international flights over the last week. By Friday, it ended up owing Rs. 3,500 crore to passengers due to the cancellations, news agency Press Trust of India reported. Besides, the Mumbai-based airline also owes money to lessors, suppliers and oil companies.
On Wednesday, Indian Oil Corporation halted the supply of fuel to Jet Airways for a few hours over non-payment of dues.
The group of Jet Airways' lenders, led by the State Bank of India, have been seeking a new investor to take a stake of upto 75 per cent in the airline. Initial bids were to be submitted by the end of Wednesday, but the bank has extended the deadline to April 12.