Over 1,100 Jet Airways pilots, who threatened to stop flying from Monday as they have not been paid salaries for three months, said they have deferred the decision in view of a meeting between the airline management and the State Bank of India.
“In light of meeting, members have requested through their team leaders that call of ‘No Pay No Work’ be deferred to give airline a chance of survival,” the National Aviator’s Guild told the union staff, according to ANI.
The airline management and the State Bank of India have been discussing a Rs 1,500-crore loan since last month as part of a rescue deal. Though the loan has been approved, the funds are yet to be released, NDTV reported.
The airline is under a severe liquidity crisis, forcing it to ground several aircraft in its fleet of 119 in recent months. According to reports, Jet Airways’s debts amount to Rs 8,000 crore or more. The airline has not confirmed the debt amount but has said it owes money to banks, pilots and suppliers.
Captain Karan Chopra, head of the National Aviator’s Guild, said: “Unemployment is an election issue. In another day or two, more than 20,000 people in Jet Airways can be unemployed.”
A spokesperson of Jet Airways said operations would have been unaffected if the guild had gone ahead with the strike. “Seven aircraft will remain in operation, which will be flown by pilots who don’t belong to the guild,” the airline said. Unidentified officials of the management said 60% of its pilots are not part of the union.
According to Hindustan Times, Jet Airways has suspended operations to regions in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Association of Southeast Asian Nations and extended suspension of services to Toronto and Paris from Chennai and back.
On Saturday, several employees of the debt-ridden airline participated in a strike demanding safeguarding of the jobs and payment of dues owed to them outside Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.
In March, Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal resigned from the board of directors of the company. The company had said that an interim panel would be set up to handle its affairs, and added that lenders have promised an immediate infusion of Rs 1,500 crore in the airline.
Jet’s lenders, who have been seeking a new investor to take a stake of up to 75% in the airline, hope to complete the selection of bidders by May 7 after the State Bank of India extended a deadline, Reuters reported.