Jet Airways pilots body, the National Aviator's Guild, Monday appealed the State Bank of India (SBI) to release Rs 1,500 crore, which was proposed to be infused in the ailing carrier as part of a debt-restructuring plan last month. The airline is operating just 6-7 planes, with almost its entire fleet being grounded due to non-payment of rentals to lessors amid severe paucity of cash. "We would like to appeal SBI to release Rs 1,500 crore funds for the airline to help it continue operations. We also appeal Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save 20,000 odd jobs at the airline," National Aviator's Guild ( NAG) vice president Adim Valiani told reporters at the airline's headquarter, Siroya Centre in Mumbai on Monday.
Earlier, the airline's pilots, engineers and cabin crew members assembled at the headquarters to show their solidarity. The airline's pilots along with engineers and senior staff were last paid for December, 2018. This apart, the airline has also defaulted on the March salary of other categories of employees as well.
Last month, an SBI-led consortium of lenders had taken management control of the airline post a debt-recast deal, following which the lenders had proposed to infuse as much as Rs 1,500 crore to the carrier to keep it afloat till the time it gets a investor.
The Monday meeting with lenders is reportedly expected to take a final decision on the quantum of funds to be infused immediately to avert a possible shut down. A meeting between the airline management and its major lender SBI last Friday could not take a decision on the fund infusion issue.
Yesterday, the guild, which has around 1,100 pilots as its members, decided to stop flying from April 15 in protest against non-payment of salaries since March. However, in a late evening communication to its members, the pilots body announced postponement of its "no pay no work" call for the second time in less than two weeks, saying it wanted to give more time to the company which is struggling to survive due to severe paucity of cash. "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 the communication.
"Accordingly, as requested, the NAG Committee would like to inform all that the decision stands deferred for the time being," it said. Meanwhile, the airline extended suspension of its services to Toronto and Paris from Chennai and back, besides withdrawing services from SAARC and Asean routes for an indefinite period. It also announced the resignation of one of its independent directors, Rajshree Pathy, from the company for other commitments.