Jet pilots hit an air pocket on funding, way forward

Appeal to SBI to release ₹1,500 crore

Published - April 16, 2019 01:06 am IST - Mumbai

The scene of protest near Jet Airways headquarters on Monday.

The scene of protest near Jet Airways headquarters on Monday.

Members of Jet Airways pilots’ association, the National Aviator’s Guild (NAG), who had gathered at the airline headquarters on Monday, had to leave without any definite answers on the way forward and interim funding.

The pilots appealed to the State Bank of India (SBI) to release ₹1,500 crore, which was proposed to be infused in the cash-strapped airline as part of a debt-restructuring plan last month. The airline is operating just seven planes, with almost its entire fleet being grounded due to non-payment of rentals to lessors.

“We would like to appeal SBI to release ₹1,500 crore for the airline to help it continue operations. We also appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save about 20,000 jobs at the airline,” NAG vice president Asim Valiani told journalists at the airline’s headquarters.

Earlier, the airline’s pilots, engineers and cabin crew members assembled at the headquarters in a show of solidarity. The airline’s pilots, along with engineers and senior staff, were last paid for December 2018. The airline has also defaulted on the March salary of other categories of employees.

Last month, an SBI-led consortium of lenders had taken management control of the airline post a debt-recast deal, following which the lenders had proposed to infuse as much as ₹1,500 crore to the carrier to keep it afloat till the time it gets a investor.

The Monday meeting with lenders is reportedly expected to take a final decision on the quantum of funds to be infused immediately to avert a possible shutdown. A meeting between the airline management and its major lender, SBI, last Friday could not take a decision on the fund infusion issue.

NAG on Sunday deferred its ‘no flying’ call to a later date, particularly when the management is scheduled to meet the lenders on Monday. “There is no one here to give us any definite answers. It is sad that the airline should be in such a situation,” a pilot said. The guild, which has around 1,100 pilots as its members, said it would wait and watch as the situation unfolds.

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