Jet Airways pilots threaten strike amid more flight cancellations
Mumbai — India’s beleaguered Jet Airways was staring at a fresh crisis on Sunday as hundreds of pilots and other top staff threatened to go on strike over unpaid salaries.
The airline, which has debts of more than $1bn, also cancelled more international flights to Europe and North America for the upcoming week.
More than 1,100 pilots, engineers and ground managers will decide on Monday whether to go on strike to demand salaries that have not been paid since January, an official from the National Aviator’s Guild union said.
On Saturday several hundred staff staged a protest at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi demanding to be paid. A Jet spokesperson declined to comment on the proposed strike.
Jet has suspended all flights to south and southeast Asian nations, as well as services from Chennai to Paris and Toronto, it said in a statement. Flights to and from London and Amsterdam would be cancelled until at least Tuesday, according to the statement, quoted by the Press Trust of India news agency.
Jet has also stopped taking reservations for many international flights, in some cases up to June 10. It called this a “pro-active measure” after recent cancellations. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in recent weeks after the company failed to pay leasing fees and creditors ordered its planes grounded.
Jet’s fleet has been cut from 120 in January to just seven planes.
The government held a crisis meeting on Friday, which was the deadline for prospective bidders to express an interest in acquiring a 75% stake in the beleaguered airline.
Etihad Airways, which already has 24%, submitted an expression of interest to buy up to 75%, according to media reports. Naresh Goyal, who founded the airline but quit as chair in March, has also lodged a bid, as have some private equity groups, newspapers reported.
The State Bank of India, which heads a lenders’ consortium now in charge of the airline, has given Jet until Monday to submit an operations plan before it considers a $145m cash injection.