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Jet Airways pilots defer decision to stop flying

With management of debt-ridden Jet Airways scheduled to meet lenders on Monday, National Aviators Guild says it will give the airline a “chance of survival”

SNS | New Delhi | Updated :

With the management of debt-ridden Jet Airways scheduled to meet the lenders on Monday, the National Aviators Guild (NAG), an association of Jet Airways pilots, has deferred its “no flying” call.

Earlier on Sunday, NAG had announced that its 1100 members would stop flying from April 15 in protest against “non-payment of salaries since January”.

“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 a late evening communique to its members, according to a PTI report.

The communique added: “Accordingly, as requested, the (Guild) Committee would like to inform all that the decision stands deferred for the time being.”

NAG has asked all pilots to be present in uniform at Siroya Centre, the Jet Airways headquarters in Mumbai’s Andheri, at 9.30 am on Monday, April 15. Other departments have also been requested to join the gathering as a show of unity.

The communique said an “open house” would be called shortly.

According to reports, the pilots, engineers and the senior Jet Airways management have not received their pay since January 2019, while the employees of other categories have not got their March salary.

“As on today, we have not been paid for nearly three-and-a-half months and we do not 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,” a PTI report had said earlier on Sunday, quoting an NAG source.

Jet has a total of 1,600 pilots with the full service carrier, and NAG claims to represent around 1,100 of them as its members. The guild had in late March called for no flying from April 1 over the same issue. However, it deferred the agitation to April 15, saying it wanted to give more time to the management.

Naresh Goyal, founder chairman of Jet Airways, quit after a debt-rejig plan was approved in March. Jet Airways has been since under the management control of an SBI-led consortium of lenders.

Meanwhile, IANS reported that low-cost carrier SpiceJet is cashing in on the situation and hiring Jet Airways engineers and pilots at much lower pay than their current salaries.

Quoting industry sources, an IANS report said Jet Airways pilots were being asked to take a salary cut of 25-30 per cent. Jet Airways engineers had been reportedly asked to settle at 50 per cent of their current pay.

“The prospect of closure is certainly one of the reasons for professionals agreeing to take salary cuts. But average salaries at Jet Airways have also been higher than the industry level,” a top aviation source told IANS.

A senior aircraft maintenance engineer, who has applied to SpiceJet and Air India Express for a job, said he had got an offer Rs 150,000 to 200,000 a month against his current pay of nearly Rs 400,000 a month.

“The offer is much lower. It will certainly be a forced choice. We are hoping that some investor will take over Jet and our salaries will remain protected,” he said.

Quoting a SpiceJet executive, the report said the budget carrier was offering salaries based on its own structure.