New Delhi: The pilots of cash-strapped Jet Airways have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu to instruct the management to release their pending salaries.
"We fear that the airline is on the verge of collapse. This will leave thousands of people unemployed. It will change the dynamics of aviation as fares will increase due to a reduction in capacity, and travelling public will face major inconvenience," said the National Aviators Guild (NAG), the registered trade union of Jet Airways' Indian pilots.
The pilots had threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their pending salaries are not cleared by March 31. The NAG claimed that while the airline was going through a tough financial phase, all employees except for pilots and engineers were getting paid on time.
"The pilots and engineers are now almost three months behind salaries and facing a lot of financial hardships with no relief in sight. Our repeated pleas to the management have gone unheard. The pilots have maintained professionalism and not hampered operations of the airline as that would have had a catastrophic effect on passengers'' travel plans," read the letter.
Jet Airways is facing the worst financial crisis of its 25-year existence, with more than one billion dollars of debt. As it struggles to stay aloft, the carrier has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, and aircraft lessors some of which have begun terminating lease deals. The airline has suspended operations on as many as 13 more international routes till end-April, besides scaling down frequencies on seven other overseas routes, mostly from Delhi and Mumbai, according to sources.
The routes where services have been temporarily withdrawn include Pune-Singapore (seven a week), which was launched with much fanfare late last December, and Pune-Abu Dhabi (seven flights a week).