Jet Airways' pilots defer strike ahead of Monday's lenders' meeting
15 April 2019
Beleaguered Jet Airways got some respite after its pilots deferred a planned strike, after the airline held back salaries since January to a section of its staff, including pilots, engineers and general managers.
In a written communiqué, National Aviators Guild (NAG), representing three-fourths of all Jet Airways pilots, told its members that its decision on not flying stands deferred for the time being.
About 1,100 of the airline’s 1,500 pilots are NAG members. That leaves only 400 pilots at Jet’s disposal in case of a strike.
The NAG, on Sunday evening, told its members to stop flying from midnight, after the management failed to pay salary dues as promised, only to rescind its decision hours later.
“It has come to our notice that there is a critical meeting planned tomorrow morning with the airline management and SBI. In light of the meeting, the members have been requested, through their team leaders, that the call of `No Pay No Work’ be deferred to give the airline a chance of survival," NAG said.
The guild, however, asked pilots to be present at the company’s headquarters on Monday morning. “An Open House will be called shortly as per the availability of the venue and the committee members. We urge our members to be present in large numbers," it added.
With a skeleton fleet and oil companies denying fuel supplies, Jet Airways halted all international services and operated a mere 40 domestic flights using six to seven planes.
Jet pilots had, last week, threatened legal action against the management for non-payment of salaries for the last three months while other employees said on Friday they will file a first information report against the airline’s management for delaying salaries.
Jet Airways has held back salaries since January to a section of its staff, including pilots, engineers and general managers. In addition, it has deferred March salaries to all its employees, as it continues to battle financial woes. The airline has also deferred interest payments to banks, and dues to fuel suppliers, oil marketing companies (OMCs) and aircraft lessors.
Last week, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) had twice stopped supplying fuel to Jet Airways before resuming supply.
Jet’s financial woes only worsened after an SBI-led lenders’ consortium took control of Jet Airways in late March, promising an auction that is expected to be completed in the current quarter.
Lenders have, however, failed to find a suitable investor willing to pump money into the loss-making carrier. Those who showed interest in acquiring stake in Jet Airways so far include buy-out firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Ltd (NIIF) besides promoters Etihad Airways PJSC, and founder Naresh Goyal, among others.
With Jet Airways in a financial muddle, infusion of fresh funds by a new investor is now crucial to save the airline from potential bankruptcy.