Jet pilots set March 31 deadline to resolve crisis, else they won’t fly

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on March 19, 2019 Published on March 19, 2019

In turbulent times Jet Airways pilots at the company’s headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday   -  SHASHIASHIWAL

In a fresh blow to debt-ridden Jet Airways, its own pilots have taken a collective decision to not fly aircraft from April 1 if a resolution plan and way forward for their salary payments are not decided by then.

This was decided after the annual general meeting of National Aviator’s Guild (NAG) – the trade union of Jet Airways’ pilots of Indian nationality – on Tuesday.

The meeting was held to discuss the issue of salary delays due to the financial crisis the airline is facing.

Captain Karan Chopra, President, NAG, said: “Our main intent is first to see if there is a resolution plan is in place, is the airline surviving. If the airline is surviving, I am confident that our salaries will come on time.”

For the past three quarters, the airline has been bogged down by a severe financial crisis and has been delaying salaries of its pilots, engineers, senior management and defaulting payments to lenders and lessors.

When asked whether the pilots’ action will further put the company under stress, Chopra told BusinessLine: “That’s why we are giving 11 days right now (notice). A resolution plan has to be reached because if nothing is paid by March 31, we will be four salaries behind and that is a lot to ask (from us).”

Captain Asim Valiani, Vice-President, NAG, said: “Anyway we are losing aircraft every day, we are down to about 35 per cent of our strength, and the lessors are grounding the aeroplane every day. So, I think by (March) 31st, any which way, I don’t know whether we will have any aircraft to fly. So, that’s something which we need to see.”

The pilots also took out a march to the Jet Airways headquarters . Jet Airways pilots had earlier written a letter to the Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar to help recover pending salaries and dues from the airline.

Eyes on new investor

To a particular query on resolution plans in the works , Chopra said pilots are “very hopeful” that “the new investor which they (Jet Airways) are talking to should be coming in on board” and that there “should be a resolution plan this month”.

He also said they would need a formal assurance in writing about who the investors are going to be, what the way forward is and how their pending salaries are going to be paid.

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Published on March 19, 2019
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