Jet pilots say mortgaging jewellery to stay afloat

Daniel Fowler
March 25, 2019

"In order to fill the gap from the reduced fleet size after the grounding of the Max fleet, the company is in discussion with various lessors globally to induct aircraft", the airline said in a filing to the BSE. Several routes have been cancelled on short notice, like flights to Birmingham and Manchester, UK; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Hong Kong, China.

However, certain suspended service until April 30 is now listed as not available for flights on or after May 12.

Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal holds 51 per cent stake while Gulf carrier Etihad Airways has 24 per cent shareholding in the airline, which has been in operation for over 25 years.

Meanwhile, 260 pilots of Jet Airways have appeared for an interview conducted by SpiceJet in Mumbai on Wednesday. The flights which have been suspended from Mumbai for this period include services to Abu Dhabi (12 weekly), Bahrain (4-7 weekly), and Dammam (14 weekly).

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The airline has discontinued services from Delhi to Abu Dhabi (nine a week), Dammam (14 weekly), Dhaka (11), Hong Kong and Riyadh (seven each a week) up to April 30, said the airline source. Sources said that the flights will remain suspended till April 30 on these routes. In mid-February, IndiGo said it would operate about 30 fewer flights each day till March-end due to the pilot shortage but these flights have now been taken out from the entire summer schedule that goes on till October. Services from Delhi and Mumbai to Kathmandu, Bangkok, Doha, Kuwait and Singapore have been also reduced significantly.

The government has asked state-run banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, two people within the administration have told Reuters, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election. They have also decided against taking the airline through insolvency process.

The NAG is the registered trade union of the Jet Airways pilots of Indian nationality, with a total official membership of around 1,135 pilots.

Two days ago, the agitated pilots threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their pending salaries are not cleared by March 31. Grappling with financial woes, the carrier has been looking at ways to raise fresh funds.

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