Ahead of a crucial meeting of Jet Airways management with their union on Monday, a section of the airline’s pilots have given an ultimatum to clear salaries dues, or face protests.
In a communication to its members, the National Aviators Guild – the union – said that the remaining 25 percent of the November salary will be paid on February 26. If the Monday meeting doesn’t end as expected, then ‘non cooperation’ will begin from March 1, said the union.
The airline management had promised to clear salary dues of its pilots by March. Apart from part of the November salary, full salaries of December and January remain.
Though the pilots were promised that almost half of the arrears will be cleared this month, sources had earlier told Moneycontrol that only 25 percent was paid.
The rumbling among pilots has been increasing at a time when the airline is yet to update on its resolution plan that was cleared by shareholders during an extraordinary general meeting held on February 21.
The resolution plan includes allotment of fresh shares and conversion of debt into equity. While it was expected that the banks, led by State Bank of India, Chairman Naresh Goyal and partner Etihad Airways, would announcement fresh investments, the deal hasn’t fructified, yet.
The pilots have warned that if payments are not made by the end of February, they may stop reporting to work. “It will start with the most senior pilots, and then with each passing day more pilots will join the protest,” said an industry executive.
The increasing disquiet has also led to discontent among a section of the pilots towards the union. They have alleged that the union has been “sitting so quiet and not coming up with concrete decisions” regarding salary payments.
It will be crucial for the airline to keep its pilots together, to both keep customers coming to its counters, and also attract investors.
Jet Airways has debt of nearly Rs 8,000 crore, and needs to make repayments of up to Rs 1,700 crore by the end of March.
Reports have said that some of the banks have agreed to provide emergency funds to the airline, but the final call is yet to be taken.