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After Shutdown, Jet Airways CEO Says All Jobs Cannot Be Secured during Sale of Carrier

The airline owes over three months salaries to 15% of the staff comprising senior management, pilots and engineers, as well as having defaulted on the March salary of its entire workforce.

PTI

Updated:April 20, 2019, 7:43 PM IST
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Mumbai: Hinting at job losses going ahead, grounded carrier Jet Airways chief executive Vinay Dube on Wednesday said the airline does not have an "answer" at present on the fate of its 20,000-odd employees during the stake sale process.

The SBI-led consortium of lenders has offered prospective bidders ownership of the airline anywhere between 31.2% and 75% for which it had run an online bidding process between April 8 and April 12 and had shortlisted four — Etihad Airways, NIIF, private equity funds TPG Capital and Indigo Partners — who can submit the final bids by May 10.

"However, we must also be realistic that the sale process will take some time and will throw up several more challenges for us, many of which we don't have the answer today," Dube said in a communication to the harried employees who have not been paid since March.

"For example, we don't have an answer today to the very important question of what happens to employees during the sale process," he added.

Nevertheless, he said the leadership team is working on answering such questions alongside the lenders.

Jet owes over three months salaries to 15% of the staff comprising senior management, pilots and engineers. Besides it has also defaulted on the March salary of its entire workforce.

Dube in the letter said the decision to shut the operations temporarily was taken after painstaking evaluation of all alternatives and guidance and advice of the board.

"A decision like this is never easy to make, but without the interim funding, which we have been repeatedly requesting for, we are simply unable to conduct flight operations in a manner that delivers to the very reasonable expectations of our guests, employees, partners and service providers," he said.

Over the past several weeks and months, the airline has tried every means possible to seek funding, both interim as well as long-term funds, to keep the operations going, but could not succeed, he said.

"Late last night we were informed by SBI, on behalf of the consortium of the lenders, that they are unable to consider our request for interim funding of Rs 983 crores," he said adding, however, this was declined.

But public statements from the airline, and government officials on Tuesday said the management was looking for a lifeline of Rs 400 crore.

"But, tomorrow is another day and tomorrow provides us with new hope, new opportunity and new expectations we are worth investing in, you are worth investing in and we confident that we will be back to share the joy of flying with our fellow-guests once again," Dube concluded.

Air Inida CMD Ashwani Lohani, meanwhile, said the temporary closure of Jet Airways is a setback for Indian aviation and a sad day for all those in the business of flying.

"While sustained mismanagement definitely contributed, the fact remains that in the entire aviation ecosystem, it is the airline that invariably remains at the receiving end while all other stakeholders make money," Lohani said in a Facebook post.

"We have in the past witnessed many airlines shutting shop and it is time to appreciate that the razor thin margins which airlines are forced to operate with in a competitive environment, results in a scenario that encourages unsustainability," he noted.

Lohani, who is helming state-owned Air India for the second time, also said the issue has no easy solutions, yet a solution would need to be found.

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