Around 1,100 pilots of crisis-hit Indian carrier Jet Airways, who are members of India's National Aviator's Guild (NAG), have decided not to fly from 10 am this Monday in protest against "non-payment of salary dues, the Press Trust of India quoted a source as saying. About 1,100 of Jet Airways’ 1,600 pilots are members of the NAG.
The pilots along with engineers and senior management have not received salaries since January. The debt-ridden carrier has also not paid March salary to employees of other categories as
"As on today, we have not been paid for nearly three-and-a-half months and we don't know when we will be paid. So we have decided to go ahead with our call of no-flying from April 15. All 1,100 pilots of NAG will stop flying from 10 am Monday," said a Guild source.
Etihad’s role remains unclear
The strike will take place on the same day when Jet Airways' management will meet the consortium of lenders with a fresh plan to request for the promised emergency infusion of Rs 1,500 crore. A refusal or further delay in releasing the interim funds could mean immediate and complete grounding of the airline.
In a related development, major shareholder Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways last week formally indicated its intent to raise its stake in Jet Airways, ending months of uncertainty over its commitment to remain invested in the carrier.
An Economic Times report said Etihad's decision to submit its expression of interest (EoI) spells relief for Jet Airways' lenders, who have been struggling to save the sinking carrier that was forced to take the unprecedented step of cancelling all international operations last week.
Binding bids have to be submitted by April 30
The Gulf carrier currently owns 24% and it can raise its holding to 49%, the maximum that a foreign carrier can hold in a domestic airline. In March, Etihad had told Jet Airways' consortium of lenders that it would not raise its stake in the beleaguered airline and wanted the banks to buy out its shareholding at Rs 150 per share.
Etihad now joins other bidders which had put in EoIs last week. The EoIs are non-binding and the qualified bidders will have to submit binding bids by April 30.
Meanwhile, press reports said that low-cost carrier and Jet Airways' main rival SpiceJet has been hiring Jet Airways engineers and pilots at much lower pay than their current salaries. The reports quoted industry sources as saying that pilots from Jet Airways are being asked to take salary cuts of 25-30% while engineers have been advised to settle at 50% of their current pay package.
Nol van Fenema