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Jet puts off date to resume foreign flights

Crisis-ridden Jet Airways has extended the cancellation of its overseas flights as it has run out of cash and is now critically dependent on the outcome of a crucial meeting with banks scheduled for Monday to get more funds for its dayto-day operations while its fleet size has been reduced to a mere 7 planes.

Meanwhile, the airline’s pilots who are on the warpath have also decided to defer their strike which was scheduled from Monday as they want to give the airline a chance to survive, keeping in mind the meeting with banks tomorrow.

Jet Airways has stopped accepting bookings for its Mumbai-Paris flight until June 10 and closed reservations for its Mumbai-London, Mumbai-Amsterdam-Mumbai and Bangalore-Amsterdam flights, up to April 18. The airline claimed the bookings for these flights have been stopped with a view to reaccommodating passengers due to interim cancellations. Earlier the airline had said these flights were suspended till April 16.

“As a proactive measure, Jet Airways has restricted sales on certain routes for a few days, in order to re-accommodate guests, who have unfortunately been inconvenienced by interim cancellations,” the airline said. Following complaints by passengers of lack of information on cancellation and non-receipt of refunds, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had on Friday said the government had asked Jet Airways to inform passengers 48 hours in advance about flight cancellations, and take their problems into consideration.

Jet Airways pilots body the National Aviator’s Guild (NAG) said on Sunday it has deferred its “no flying” call to a later date, particularly when the management is scheduled to meet the lenders on Monday. Earlier in the day, the Guild, which has around 1,100 pilots as its members, decided to stop flying from April 15 in protest against non-payment of salaries since March. It has come to our notice that there is a critical meeting planned on 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. All pilots are still requested, however, to be present at the Jet Airways headquarters in the morning in their uniforms, it said. The debt-ridden carrier has not cleared the salaries of other employees as well who have also been protesting.

Saddled with more than Rs 8,500 crore of bank debt, the airline has been tottering on the verge of collapse with its fleet down to a mere 6 to 7 planes from 119 before it plunged into the current crisis. It has yet to receive a loan of about Rs 1,500 crore which it was expected to get from its lenders as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March in which the SBI-led consortium has taken over the management of the airline. The crisis at Jet has deepened in recent weeks as lessors have started applying to deregister planes, signalling the planned bailout had failed to allay their fears.

An urgent meeting to discuss the Jet Airways crisis was held at the prime minister’s office on Friday, which was also attended by the aviation secretary. After the meeting, Kharola said Jet Airways had money to operate 6-7 planes over the weekend and after that, the lenders would have to decide how many aircraft it could fly after Monday afternoon.

The lenders, who have been seeking a new investor to take a stake of up to 75 percent in the airline, hope to complete the selection of bidders by May 7.


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