Jet pilots urge SBI to release ₹15K cr, save 20,000 jobs

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Jet Airways became the first domestic airline to go into bankruptcy. Representative image. Photo/PTI.

Jet Airways pilots’ body, the National Aviator’s Guild, on Monday appealed the State Bank of India (SBI) to release ₹1,500 crore, which was proposed to be infused in the ailing carrier as part of a debt-restructuring plan last month.

Over 1,000 pilots and engineers of the cash-strapped airways, who had announced to stop work from midnight of April 15, had deferred their strike ahead of the management-SBI meet on Monday.

The airline is operating just six to seven planes, with almost its entire fleet being grounded due to non-payment of rentals to lessors amid severe paucity of cash.

“We would like to appeal SBI to release ₹1,500 crore funds for the airline to help it continue operations. We also appeal Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save 20,000 odd jobs at the airline,” National Aviator’s Guild ( NAG)  vice president Adim Valiani told reporters at the airline’s headquarter, Siroya Centre, here on Monday (April 15).

Earlier, the airline’s pilots, engineers and cabin crew members assembled at the headquarters to show their solidarity.

The airline’s pilots along with engineers and senior staff were last paid for December, 2018. This apart, the airline has also defaulted on the March salary of other categories of employees as well.

Last month, an SBI-led consortium of lenders had taken management control of the airline post a debt-recast deal, following which the lenders had proposed to infuse as much as ₹1,500 crore to the carrier to keep it afloat till the time it gets an investor.

The Monday meeting with lenders is reportedly expected to take a final decision on the quantum of funds to be infused immediately to avert a possible shut down. A meeting between the airline management and its major lender SBI on April 12 could not take a decision on the fund infusion issue.