At least 130 flights of Jet Airways were on Tuesday cancelled from the four major metros after a large chunk of pilots failed to report for work protesting against sacking of two of their colleagues, a step termed as “sabotage of operations” by the airlines.
Passengers in Mumbai were the worst hit with 115 flights out of the total 345 failing to take off while at least 10 flights of Jet Airways and its subsidiary JetLite were cancelled in Delhi. In Chennai, six flights were cancelled, including three international, and four in Kolkata.
However, the morning flight of the private carrier from Kolkata for Dhaka took off as scheduled, Jet Airways officials said.
Hit by the crisis, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal met Civil Aviation Secretary Madhavan Nambiar in the morning for about half—an—hour and is understood to have discussed the situation.
The Ministry officials said the government was closely monitoring the situation.
Jet Airways in a press statement said that a section of the pilots have resorted to a “simulated strike by reporting sick“.
“This organised activity is a planned sabotage of operations that will damage the airline’s operations and inconvenience the travelling public,” it said.
A large number of passengers who had to take the flights operated by the private carrier were accommodated in the flights of Air India and other carriers.
“Jet Airways is taking all steps to minimise the inconvenience to its guests. The airline will make all efforts to operate the maximum number of flights,” the statement said.
“However, we will try to accommodate our guests on alternate flights as some flights may have to be combined or cancelled,” it added.
While the National Aviators Guild (NAG), the pilots’ union of Jet Airways, had decided on Monday to call off its proposed strike against the management’s sacking of two senior pilots, its members decided an alternate course to protest action like going on mass casual leave.
"An act of vendetta"
The union had termed the sackings “an act of vendetta” and demanded the reinstatement of the pilots.
Jet Airways had last month terminated the services of two of its senior pilots Capt Sam Thomas and Capt Balaraman, saying, “Their services were not required” after they along with others formed a trade union body in the company.
Subsequent to its serving a strike notice on the management, the issue was referred to the Regional Labour Commissioner.
A conciliatory meeting was called on August 31 between both the management and the union which claims a representation of over 650 of the over 1,000 pilots in Jet Airways.
Referring to the directions of the Labour Commissioner, the statement said, “Jet Airways has been in a conciliation process with the pilots. The Regional Labour Commissioner had categorically stated that any strike by the pilots during this pendency of conciliation, would be deemed an illegal act.
“Regrettably, a section of the pilots who were rostered for operations have resorted to a simulated strike by reporting sick. This organised activity is a planned sabotage of the operations that will damage the airlines operations and inconvenience the travelling public,” it said.
The airlines said as a result, has been forced to either cancel or combine some of its flights.