The Jet Airways’ domestic pilots body National Aviators Guild wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday flagging concerns about the delay in receiving salaries, reported PTI.
“We fear that the airline is on verge of collapse and this will leave thousands of people unemployed and change the dynamics of aviation as fares will increase due to reduction in capacity and travelling public will face major inconvenience,” the letter read. “The pilots and engineers are now almost three months behind salaries... and facing a lot of financial hardships with no relief in sight.”
The guild pointed out that the salary payment has been erratic for the last seven months. “Stress in this section of employees can easily compromise safety and is not at all desirable in a profession that demands the highest levels of alertness and safety,” it added.
Captain Karan Chopra, a Boeing 777 commander at Jet Airways, said the stress of unpaid salary is unwarranted and needs to be eliminated immediately, NDTV reported. “We are also normal human beings,” Chopra said. “The stress levels will keep creeping up, how much ever we try and keep them behind.” Chopra is the head of the union representing pilots of Jet Airways.
Captain Asim Valiani, a senior Jet Airways pilot, said all the members of the guild have decided to stop flying from April 1 if their demands are not fulfilled. “We want our salaries and we also want a clear road map,” Valiani said.
On Tuesday, the guild threatened to stop flying from April 1 if there is no clarity on salary payments and resolution process by the end of this month. The guild represents around 1,000 domestic pilots at the airline.
Meanwhile, at least 260 pilots of Jet Airways have applied to join SpiceJet, IANS reported. “‘If the airline collapses, there will be close to 1,500 pilots available in the market,” Valiani said. “And I don’t think we have jobs for everyone. So everyone is trying to secure themselves.”
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.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Tuesday said only 41 aircraft of the debt-ridden private carrier are available for operations, with the number set to reduce in the coming weeks. The airline, which has 119 aircraft, has reduced its operations due to a liquidity crunch.
On Wednesday, State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar said the lenders of Jet Airways will make every effort to keep the airline flying. SBI is the private airline’s biggest lender, and is leading the efforts to evolve a comprehensive plan to revive the airline.