Centre steps in as Jet crisis worsens, pilot warns strike

Irving Hamilton
March 20, 2019

Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said on microblogging website Twitter that he had asked the civil aviation secretary to hold the emergency meeting on the issues ailing the airline such as grounding of aircraft, advance bookings, cancellations and refunds. "It has been arduous for us to meet our financial requirements, which has resulted in adversely affecting the psychological condition of engineers at work and therefore, safety of public transport aircraft being flown by Jet Airways across India and the world is at risk".

The severe liquidity crunch has forced it to ground aircraft, cancelling flights in huge numbers, shut down stations and delay salary payments to a group of staff.

But the deal got stuck after Mr Goyal refused to step down as Jet Airways chairman.

However, they issued a clarification hours later saying Jet Airways aircraft are safe to fly and are being maintained at highest levels of safety standards.

Indian carrier Jet Airways has grounded a further six aircraft amid a deepening crisis.

Currently, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is Jet's largest shareholder with a 24 per cent stake.

Govt steps in as crisis deepens in Jet Airways pilots threaten strike
Suresh Prabhu

In the letter, which was also marked to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the union warned the government and the regulator that the pilots of the airline are getting increasingly frustrated as salaries have not been paid on time and in full since September and at present, 87.5 percent of December and full salaries of January and February amount to outstanding dues.

For the last few weeks, passengers of Jet Airways have been venting their ire on social media as Jet Airways' flight cancellations have increased gradually due to the rising number of grounded aircraft.

The finance ministry has in the past year sought regular updates from the banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), on Jet's financial health, the people said.

Given that elections are round the corner, the government is putting in effort to rescue the airline.

The government has been asking state-run banks including SBI and Punjab National Bank (PNB) as well as the 49% state-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to take at least a third of the airline until new buyer can be found, the news agency said.

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