MUMBAI: The National Aviators Guild (NAG), representing three-fourths of all Jet Airways pilots, on Sunday evening, told its members to stop flying from midnight, after the management failed to pay salary dues as promised, before rescinding its decision hours later.
In a written communiqué, NAG told its members that its decision on not flying stands deferred for the time being.
“It has come to our notice that there is a critical meeting planned tomorrow morning with the airline management and SBI (State Bank of India). In light of the meeting, the members have been requested, through their team leaders, that the call of No Pay No Work be deferred to give the airline a chance of survival," it said.
Pilots have, however, been asked by NAG to be present at the company’s headquarters on Monday morning. “An Open House will be called shortly as per the availability of the venue and the committee members. We urge our members to be present in large numbers," it added.
On Saturday, the airline operated a mere 40 domestic flights using six to seven planes. International operations have been suspended till 15 April.
Last week, Jet pilots had threatened legal action against the management of the cash-strapped airline if pending salaries for the last three months were not paid by 14 April. Other employees who have not been paid since March had said on Friday they that will file a first information report (FIR) against the airline’s management for delaying salaries.
About 1,100 of the airline’s 1,500 pilots are NAG members. “There are several pilots in the airline that are not members of NAG. They are expected to continue to fly," said another NAG member.
Jet Airways has held back salaries since January to a section of its staff, including pilots, engineers and general managers. In addition, it has deferred March salaries to all its employees, as it continues to battle financial woes. The airline has also deferred interest payments to banks, and dues to fuel suppliers, oil marketing companies (OMCs) and aircraft lessors.
Last week, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) had twice stopped supplying fuel to Jet Airways before resuming supply.
Given Jet’s situation, IOCL, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd have seen demand drop by 20-30%, officials said. A BPCL official said the company has already invoked a Jet Airways bank guarantee.
An SBI-led lenders’ consortium took control of Jet Airways in late March, promising an auction that is expected to be completed in the current quarter.
The effort by the lenders has so far seen interest from private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Ltd (NIIF), Etihad Airways PJSC, and founder Naresh Goyal, among others. With Jet Airways in dire straits, the infusion of fresh funds by a new investor has become critical to stave off a potential bankruptcy.