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Unpaid pilots serve legal notice to Jet; lessors ask DGCA to deregister 15 aircraft

NEW DELHI: Jet Airways pilots’ union on Tuesday served a notice to management, warning to initiate legal action unless their January to March salary dues are cleared by April 14. While January and February salary is due for the high pay bracket pilots, aircraft engineer and senior management, March salary have not been paid to any employee. The airline had last week promised to inform employees about salary due payment on Tuesday.

Jet CEO Vinay Dube wrote to employees on Tuesday. But in the absence of the promised Rs 1,500-crore emergency funding from lenders, he could not give any timeline for the same. Meanwhile, unpaid lessors have asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to deregister about 15 aircraft from Jet’s name so that they could be leased out to other airlines. “The process of de-registering some of Jet’s leased aircraft from the airline’s name is on,” said an official.

The airline’s survival clearly hinges on finding a strong buyer, preferably an airline or a consortium with an airline as member. Some indication of whether Jet gets a buyer will come on Wednesday and with certainty by the month-end. But that wait is proving to be too long for the fund-starved airline. Banks are likely to infuse emergency funds only if they feel Jet has a future based on the outcome of the stake sale process.

So without funds, Jet’s key management people like Vinay Dube and chief people officer Rahul Taneja are somehow trying to the ensure the fund-starved airline keeps flying some aircraft and does not shut down completely before the stake sale process reaches its logical conclusion. Dube’s Tuesday mail read: “We continue to work with consortium of Indian lenders on our resolution plan. We are focused today on two principal streams: Secure interim funding to sustain, and eventually increase, our current level of operations. Once we restore the much-needed network stability of the airline, our highest priority is to get more planes flying and to pay your salary arrears.”

The second focus is on the bank-led restructuring process that is currently on. “What gives me a sense of optimism is that we still have, today, all the resources we need to run an airline of scale… These are indeed unique assets that will go a long way in instilling confidence among prospective investors. Either Rahul (Taneja) or I will write to you early next week letting you know how both of these processes have developed,” his letter said.

“No doubt there are still many uncertainties ahead of us, but let us take comfort in the fact that we have already successfully overcome several uncertainties thrown at us over the last several months… There is hope that we will recapitalise the airline and I urge everyone to keep fighting for that hope and for each other. We have come so far … let’s keep fighting a little while longer,” Dube’s letter adds.