NEW DELHI: Hours after bankrupt Jet Airlines pilots’ union decided to go on strike from Monday demanding unpaid wages, it deferred its no-fly call citing a critical meeting of lenders scheduled for the day.
The clout of pilots has anyway diminished, as the number of Jet planes currently flying is down to single digits — just seven out of its original fleet of 119.
"It is 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. Accordingly, as requested, the Committee would like to inform all that the decision stands deferred for the time being," the National Aviator's Guild (NAG) committee said in a late evening communication to its members.
All pilots are still requested, however, to be present at Siroya Centre at 0930 hours on April 15 in their uniforms, it said.
Siroya Centre is Jet Airways headquarters in Andheri suburb in Mumbai.
According to NAG, it has also called upon other departments to join the gathering at the headquarters as a show of unity.
An Open House will be called shortly as per the availability of the venue and the committee members, the communication added.
The pilots, along with engineers and senior management, have not received salaries since January.
The debt-ridden carrier has also not paid the March salary to employees of other categories as well.
"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 Guild source said earlier in the day.
The NAG, which claims representation of around 1,100 pilots of the total 1,600 with the full-service carrier, had in late March called for no flying from April 1 over non-payment of salaries.
However, on March 31, it deferred the agitation to April 15, saying it wanted to give more time to the new management.
A lenders’ consortium, led by State Bank of India, will meet on Monday to consider a proposal for Rs 1,000 crore capital infusion. On Friday, at a meeting called by the Prime Minister’s Office, sources said the grim message was Jet has money to run operations only till Monday.
Earlier in the day, the carrier suspended operations to SAARC and ASEAN regions indefinitely and stopped accepting bookings to many Western destinations.
“Jet Airways has currently suspended operations to SAARC and ASEAN destinations, as well as to Toronto and Paris from Chennai and back,” it said in a statement.
It was in line with the Centre’s directive to inform passengers 48 hours in advance about flight cancellations.
“As a proactive measure, Jet Airways has restricted sales on certain routes for a few days,” the airline added.
(With inputs from PTI)