Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday said he has directed the secretary of civil aviation to hold an emergency meeting regarding debt-ridden private carrier Jet Airways.
Prabhu tweeted that he has directed the secretary to convene a meeting on Jet Airways’ grounding of flights, advance bookings, cancellation of flights, refunds and safety issues. “Asked him [secretary] to get a report on Jet [Airways] compliance issues immediately from DGCA,” he tweeted.
The minister’s comment comes in the wake of the airline reducing its operations due to a liquidity crunch, PTI reported. On Monday, Jet Airways said it had grounded four more planes and would delay paying interest on maturing debt, Reuters reported. With this, the number of planes grounded rose to 41, which is more than a third of the carrier’s entire fleet.
Meanwhile, a maintenance engineers union of Jet Airways on Tuesday wrote to the aviation regulator, urging it to resolve the non-payment of salaries due for three months, PTI reported.
The Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association, in a letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said engineers were under “tremendous stress” as salaries were not being paid on time over the last seven months. The letter said salaries for the past three months salary are still overdue.
“It has been arduous for us to meet our financial requirements, result of which have adversely affected the psychological condition of aircraft engineers at work and therefore the safety of public transport airplanes being flown by Jet Airways across India and the world is at risk,” the letter said.
The association urged the aviation regulator to intervene and direct the airline to clear outstanding dues and pay salaries on time “to enable us to continue deliver safe airplanes”.
Jet Airways has posted losses of over Rs 1,000 crore for three consecutive quarters since March 2018. The carrier defaulted on loan repayments to banks on December 31.
Jet Airways chairperson Naresh Goyal said it is charting out a bailout plan, led by state-run banks and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. State Bank of India is Jet Airways’ biggest lender, and is leading the efforts to evolve a comprehensive plan to revive the airline.
In January, Goyal offered to invest Rs 700 crore in the struggling airline and offered to sell his shares as long as his stake does not fall below 25%. Goyal holds 51% stake in the private carrier.