As they entered the cockpit of the Jet Airways Delhi-Amritsar-Mumbai flight at 10.30 pm on April 17, Captain Mohit Dagar and Command Training-First Officer Pratik Khairmode decided to fly the aircraft like it was any other day. Their smiling faces did not betray their heavy hearts as they got ready for the airline’s last flight before operations were suspended.

Dagar, who has served the airline for 11 years, told Khairmode: “Don’t get dazed because this is the last flight. Enter the cockpit like it’s just another day.”

Speaking to BusinessLine , Dagar said: “I still have hopes that the airline will revive itself, and that’s why it was just another flight.”

“We were aware of the reality,” Khairmode recalled. “However, we were all sure, and still are, that we will be flying again.”

The airline temporarily suspended its operations on Wednesday night till further notice.

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The last flight was an emotional one for the 80-odd passengers, too. “A passenger walked up to us and thanked us for flying them. There was a sense of gratitude for the entire staff.” said Khairmode.

“With your blessings and good wishes, we will come back and hopefully have the opportunity to fly with you soon,” was Dagar’s last announcement as flight captain.

Ground staff protest

Meanwhile, around 250 enraged and anxious ground staff associated with the All India Jet Airways’ Officers and Staff Association (AIJAOSA) on Thursday chanted slogans of “Save Jet Airways, save our future” outside Siroya Centre, the airline’s headquarters here.

Standing under the scorching sun, tempers flared. They wanted the management to come down and speak to them, but that did not happen. The high-voltage protest lasted a couple of hours. Kiran Pawaskar, a Member of the Legislative Council, who represented the union, met the management, which has asked for a week’s time to deal with the situation.

The jobs of about 22,000 employees are at stake. The poor availability of jobs in the aviation sector currently is making them jittery.

Also read:Fate of 22,000 Jet Airways' employees hangs in balance; management seeks more time

A senior security staff supervisor who has worked with the company for 23 years said: “Jet Airways was my first job, and I have given several years to the company. I get this in return.”

“My experience is not going to work in my favour because the companies want younger staff members. At my current CTC (cost to company), I will find it difficult to find another job.”

Air India’s special offer

Meanwhile, Air India, in a communication to passengers, announced that it would make a special offer to stranded international passengers due to cancellations of Jet Airways flights.

“As a gesture of goodwill and to mitigate the hardship of the 9W stranded passengers at international stations, Air India will be offering special fares to such passengers,” it said. “The offer will be available on 19 routes, including Singapore-Delhi, Jeddah-Bombay, Hong Kong-Bombay, Bangkok-Mumbai and London-Bombay.”

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The offer applies to economy class passengers with a valid cancelled Jet Airways ticket, among other conditions. “The offer is valid till April 28,” Air India added.