Over 1,000 Jet Airways pilots not to fly from Monday due to unpaid salaries

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – More than a thousand pilots of India’s debt-laden Jet Airways will not fly from Monday as they have not been paid salaries for the past three months, President of the National Aviators Guild said on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft parked at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas -/File Photo

Saddled with more than $1.2 billion of bank debt, the airline has been teetering for weeks and has yet to receive a loan of about $217 million from its lenders as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.

“Pilots haven’t been paid for the last three months,” Capt Karan Chopra told Reuters.

The crisis at Jet has deepened in recent weeks as lessors have started applying to deregister planes, signaling the planned bailout had failed to assuage their concerns.

An urgent meeting to discuss the Jet situation was held at the prime minister’s office on Friday, which was also attended by the country’s aviation secretary, Pradeep Singh Kharola.

After the meeting, Kharola said the carrier had money to operate 6-7 planes over the weekend and after that the lenders would have to decide how many jets it could fly after Monday afternoon, news channel ET Now reported late on Friday.

Kharola said the company will meet bankers on Monday for infusion of funds in the interim, the TV channel said.

According to a Business Standard newspaper report on Sunday, Jet’s lenders, led by the State Bank of India, are considering a proposal to infuse 10 billion rupees ($144.55 million) to keep the airline afloat.

The money is expected to be disbursed after the Jet management submits an operational plan on how it intends to use the money till May 7, the report said.

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.

Initial bids were to be submitted by the end April 10, but SBI extended the deadline to April 12.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which owns a 24-percent stake in the airline, private equity fund TPG Capital, government owned sovereign fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and ousted chairman Naresh Goyal are among those to have submitted bids, the Business Standard reported.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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