Over 1,100 Jet Airways pilots, who threatened to stop flying from Monday as they have not been paid salaries for the past three months, said they have deferred the decision as they wanted to give the debt-ridden airline “a chance of survival”. The move comes the same day as the airline suspended operations in SAARC & ASEAN regions indefinitely, besides extending
The National Aviator’s Guild (NAG), which these pilots are a part of, said that they reconsidered their strike in view of a “critical meeting” planned on Monday between the airline management & the State Bank of India, which is leading the consortium of the airline’s lenders.
“It has come to our notice that there is a critical meeting planned tomorrow morning with the airline management & SBI. In light of the meeting, the members have requested, through their team leaders, that the call of ‘No Pay No Work’ be deferred to give the airline a chance of survival,” a statement released by NAG said.
Jet has been reeling under a severe liquidity crisis, which has compelled it to ground jets for which leases have gone unpaid. On Friday (April 12), Jet had extended suspension of its international flights till Monday (April 15).
The airline is currently operating only seven aircraft (one Boeing 737 & six ATRs) across the country, which requires a minimum of 150 pilots. As of now, the airline has 1,450 pilots.
Saddled with more than $1.2 billion of bank debt, the airline has been teetering for weeks & has yet to receive a loan of about $217 million from its lenders as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.
The pilots, along with engineers & senior management, have not received salaries since January. The debt-ridden carrier has also not paid March salary to employees of other categories.
The NAG had in late March called for no flying from April 1 over non-payment of salaries. However, on March 31 it deferred the agitation to April 15, saying it wanted to give more time to the new management.
On Friday, around 500 ground staff working at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) marched from the terminal to the airline’s office in Andheri seeking clarity on the company’s future. The management met with the pilots after the protests, but it did not prove to be fruitful.
“We do not think the management will pay our salaries anytime soon. If the airline has no money & no salary is being credited, there is no point in flying. So we have decided to stop flying until we get an assurance from the management,” a senior pilot associated with NAG said on condition of anonymity.