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Jet Airways pilots threaten to go on leave from 1 April, warn of legal action

The Jet Airways pilots have decided to protest under the banner of National Aviators Guild or under a different banner. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP)Premium
The Jet Airways pilots have decided to protest under the banner of National Aviators Guild or under a different banner. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP)

  • Jet Airways pilots haven't been paid salaries for three months as the airline battled a financial crisis
  • Jet Airways bailout deal, struck on 25 March, envisages immediate capital infusion of 1,500 crore by the airline's lenders

Mumbai: Jet Airways pilots have written to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the embattled airline, Vinay Dube, threatening to take legal action or go on indefinite leave from 1 April if the company fails to pay salary dues by the end of March.

“After having been aggrieved over the last eight months my anticipation, belief and confidence in your management has been completely eroded, washed off due to the complete lack of communication in a transparent and fair manner," said a letter written by a pilot to Dube on 29 March.

Mint has reviewed a copy of the letter, which is in the same format as the other letters.

“I am hoping to receive all the payments due to me in my account before last working day," the letter said. “I have recourse under the law to file cases for recovery of my payment (both by civil law and labour regulation). I can jointly express my discomfort and agitate under the auspices of the association to which I belong or become a part of a new group that raises disputes before the management. I can express my displeasure by refusing to fly till such time that my issues are not resolved," the letter said.

Pilots of Jet Airways (India) Ltd haven’t been paid salaries for more than three months as the airline struggled to keep its operations afloat because of rising costs. The airline has also not paid salaries to other employees and has defaulted on lease rentals to aircraft lessors. The airline has also defaulted on interest payment in December.

Last Monday, a consortium of lenders—led by State Bank of India (SBI)—took control of Jet Airways, promising to throw open a bidding contest for a new investor, which is expected to be completed in the June quarter.

Lenders are expected to immediately pump about 1,500 crore into Jet Airways by issuing appropriate debt instruments.

The pilots have decided to protest under the banner of the airline’s pilots union—the National Aviators Guild—or under a different banner if their salaries are not paid by the end of March.

To read more on the Jet Airways crisis, click here

“While I understand and have been more than willing to cooperate at difficult times either currently or in the past, I have to candidly let you know that I have a deep sense of discomfort within me by your conduct in not honouring the terms of understanding to make all salary current as of 31st March. There is 387.5% of unpaid salaries due to me as on 31 March 2019," the letter said.

Also read: Rescue deal could be no panacea for struggling Jet Airways

“I can express my displeasure by refusing to fly till such time that my issues are not resolved. I have been pondering over the alternatives above and I feel that it would be suitable for me to proceed on leave of absence, to assist me in organizing my personal life and arrange for sources of my existence as you have failed in honouring the agreement and your word," the letter said.

“As announced earlier this week , the airline’s lenders and its management team would like to reiterate, that every effort is being made to inject adequate liquidity into the Company, to quickly restore normalcy of operations, ensuring due compliance with all appropriate legal processes / formalities at the same time. While acknowledging the support of each and every member of its family, Jet Airways’ especially recognises the contribution of its pilots, AMEs and members of its senior management, who have sacrificed personal interests and have gone beyond their call of duty in order to ensure safe and reliable operations for the airline’s guests," Jet Airways Spokesperson said. 

Spokespersons of the National Aviators Guild were also unavailable for comment.

On Friday, Jet Airways shares traded flat at 269.35 apiece on the BSE while the benchmark Sensex rose 0.33% to end the day at 38,672.91 points.


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