Jet Airways pilots body defers 'no flying' call ahead of lenders meet

SBI considering a proposal to infuse 10 billion rupees (USD 145 million) to keep the airline afloat.

Mumbai: Cash-strapped Jet Airways on Sunday averted a deeper crisis after its pilots body, the National Aviatior's Guild, deferred its "no flying" call to a later date from Monday, when the management is scheduled to meet the lenders.

Earlier in the day, the guild, which has around 1,100 pilots as its members, decided to stop flying from April 15 in protest against non-payment of salaries since March.

However, in a late evening communication to its members, the pilots body announced postponement of its "no pay no work" call for the second time in less than two weeks, saying it wanted to give more time to the company which is struggling to survive due to severe paucity of cash.

"It has come to our notice that there is a critical meeting planned tomorrow (Monday) morning with the airline management and SBI. In light of the meeting, the members have requested, through their team leaders, that the call of 'no pay no work' be deferred to give the airline a chance of survival," the Guild said in the communication.

"Accordingly, as requested, the NAG Committee would like to inform all that the decision stands deferred for the time being," it said.

Meanwhile, the airline extended suspension of its services to Toronto and Paris from Chennai and back, besides withdrawing services from SAARC and Asean routes for an indefinite period. It also announced the resignation of one of its independent directors, Rajshree Pathy, from the company for other commitments.

In an exchange filing, the Jet Airways said, "This is to inform you that Rajshree Pathy has submitted her resignation as an Independent Director of the company with effect from April 13, owing to time constraints and on account of her other current commitments."

The airline's pilots along with engineers and senior staff were last paid for December, 2018. This apart, the airline has also defaulted on the March salary of other categories of employees as well.

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 Rs 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 shut down.

A meeting between the airline management and its major lender SBI last Friday could not take a decision on the fund infusion issue.

The Guild has requested its members to be present at the airline's headquarters, Siroya Centre, in Mumbai's Andheri suburb at 9.30 am on Monday in their uniforms.

According to the NAG, it has also called upon other departments to join the gathering at the headquarters as a show of unity.

An Open House will be called shortly as per the availability of the venue and the committee members, its communication added.

The NAG had in late March called for no flying from April 1 over non-payment of salaries. However, on March 31, it deferred the agitation to April 15, saying it wanted to give additional time to the new management to settle down prior to addressing its pending salaries issue.

"Jet Airways has currently suspended operations to SAARC and ASEAN destinations, as well as to Toronto and Paris from Chennai and back," the airlines said in a statement.

The airline, which has been operating less than 50 flights per day with a fleet of six to seven planes, has also cancelled its long-haul, west-bound operations to and from Amsterdam, London's Heathrow and Paris till April 16.

According to sources, the airline has also stopped accepting bookings for its Mumbai-Paris flight until June 10 and closed reservations for its Mumbai-London, Mumbai-Amsterdam-Mumbai and Bangalore-Amsterdam flights, up to April 18.

Jet Airways confirmed stopping of bookings for these flights, saying the move is aimed at re-accommodating passengers due to interim cancellations.

"As a proactive measure, Jet Airways has restricted sales on certain routes for a few days in order to re-accommodate guests who have unfortunately been inconvenienced by interim cancellations," a spokesperson of the airline said.

Following complaints by passengers regarding lack of information on cancellation and non-receipt of refunds, the civil aviation secretary had Friday said the Centre has asked Jet Airways to inform passengers 48 hours in advance about flight cancellations, and take their problems into consideration.

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