After Kingfisher and AI, Jet pilots on the warpath

The pilot troubles at Kingfisher Airlines and national carrier Air India have spread to Jet Airways, the country's largest private airline, with pilots sporting black bands on Wednesday in protest against delayed salary payments.

Seeking to defuse the situation, Jet Airways founder and chairman Naresh Goyal on Thursday met representatives of the pilots at his Altamount Road residence in Mumbai and requested them to end their protest.

Pilots emerging from the meeting said they will decide on further action after a conference call today in which they will attempt to reach a consensus between themselves.

Goyal reportedly told them that the airline is facing a ''paucity of funds'', and the pilots should look on themselves as part of a big family instead of confronting the management; but the pilots were not convinced. They pointed to the airline's market share, increasing load factor and investment in fleet expansion to show it had enough funds.

A pilot emerging from the meeting reportedly said, ''The chairman told us that we are one big family and that he is not being advised properly about the correct decisions that need to be taken. The pilots are not too convinced and we will decide on a further course of action on Friday."

A Jet Airways spokesperson denied any delay in salary payments; but his denial was clearly unconvincing. The pilots say their salaries are already delayed by 15 days to the middle of the month; and they are agitated because they fear this delay may be widened.