Jet Airways, which has been struggling to continue flying, has held back paying salaries since January to a section of its staff—including pilots, engineers and general managers. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)
Jet Airways, which has been struggling to continue flying, has held back paying salaries since January to a section of its staff—including pilots, engineers and general managers. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Jet Airways pilots threaten legal action over unpaid salaries

  • Jet Airways pilots union sets 14 April as deadline for airline to clear dues of past three months
  • Reeling under a cash crunch, Jet Airways hasn’t paid salaries for January, February and March

Mumbai: Pilots of Jet Airways (India) Ltd have threatened to take legal action against the management of the cash-strapped airline if salaries pending for the last three months are not paid by 14 April.

In a letter to Jet Airways’ chief executive officer Vinay Dube, the Mumbai-based lawyer representing the airline’s pilots union, National Aviators Guild (NAG), said her client will “resort to all constitutional and legal methods available to it to ensure payment of salaries to its members".

“In these circumstances, my client calls upon the management of Jet Airlines (sic) to pay the salaries outstanding for the months of January, February & March 2019 by 14th April 2019 (and future monthly salaries by the 1st of each proceeding month), failing which my client shall be constrained, instructed to inform you, to resort to all constitutional and legal methods available to it to ensure payment of the salaries to its members," lawyer Jane Cox said in the letter.

A copy of the letter, dated 8 April, has been reviewed by Mint.

“This situation is leading to extreme stress, anxiety and frustration amongst my client’s member pilots—hardly an ideal situation for pilots in the cockpit. Monthly EMIs (equated monthly instalments) have to be met, school & college fees paid, along with medical bills of ageing parents, etc.," Cox said.

“All of my client’s pleas to the management in respect of the outstanding payments have had no effect. My client addressed a notice to Your Goodself on 2nd April 2019 calling for pay of the outstanding amounts but have till date not even received a reply to the same, never-mind payment," Cox said in the letter.

A spokesperson for Jet Airways did not respond to queries.

Jet Airways, which has been struggling to continue flying, has held back paying salaries since January to a section of its staff—including pilots, engineers and general managers. In addition, the indebted airline has deferred paying salaries for March to all its employees as it continues to battle its financial woes.

The airline has also shrunk its fleet size to about 22 planes from 119, according to a Press Trust of India report. The airline also defaulted on interest payments on 31 December 2018.

Lenders, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), took control of Jet Airways in March and forced founder Naresh Goyal to relinquish all roles in the carrier in a bid to resolve the crisis. The lenders had in February decided to convert a portion of the airline’s debt into equity by agreeing to take a 50.5% stake, nominate two members to its board and infuse about 1,500 crore. But the lenders are yet to convert their debt into equity.

The lenders have initiated a bidding process for selling a stake in Jet Airways, which began on Monday and is expected to close on Wednesday. Potential buyers have been offered as much as 75% stake in the airline.

On Tuesday, Jet Airways shares rose 1.34% to 267.65 apiece on the BSE while the benchmark Sensex rose 0.62% to 38,939.22 points.

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