Over 1,000 Jet Airways pilots have confirmed that they will go on a strike from April 1 since the airline has not received its interim funding from lenders which in turn has kept the pilots uninformed regarding their four-month salary dues. This comes days after the lenders agreed to infuse Rs. 1,500 crore as a part of an immediate relief measure, but the pilot union of Jet Airways said that there has been no update on the status of salary payment.
The National Aviators Guild (NAG) union of Jet Airways’ Indian pilots broke the news to the members on Friday night that an expected interim funding from State Bank of India (SBI) was supposed to take place on Friday, March 29 but no such fund transfer took place hence, there has been no update on the salary dues. He added that the unanimous decision taken by the Delhi and Mumbai pilots stands effective from April 1.
Pilots at the airline had asked it to clear a substantial chunk of their salary before the end of the month and added that they would stop flying if their demands are not met. Arrears of 1,100 Jet pilots that have accumulated over the past few months have not been disbursed even after a rescue plan was initiated by lenders after Naresh Goyal resigned from the airline’s board.
On March 19, the NAG had decided that they will refuse to work unless a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed for the pending dues. Things seemed to get better when the Jet Airways’ Chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down clearing the way for lenders to take over the airline on March 25.
This strike comes as another blow to the airline as it has laid off many expat pilots to cut down on extra logistical costs, and is currently operating less than half of their functional fleet, much of which has been grounded because of non-payment of lease rentals.
Earlier on Friday, a source said that around 200 pilots had written individually to Jet CEO Vinay Dube, threatening to go on "leave of absence", and they were also planning to take legal recourse over non-payment of salary. A source in the pilots' community said around 200 pilots have written to the CEO flagging concerns about non-payment of salaries.
About a week ago, the pilots had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu to intervene and instruct the management to release their pending salaries.
(With PTI inputs)