Jet cancels flights as pilots report ‘sick’

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Jet Airways cancelled at least 14 flights to various destinations after some of its pilots reported “sick” over non-payment of their dues.

The loss-making private carrier has been defaulting on salary disbursement to its senior management along with pilots and engineer since August due to severe cash crunch.

The airline has partially paid to these staff for September while the full salaries of October and November also remain unpaid. 

“At least 14 flights have been cancelled so far due to some pilots reporting sick. They are protesting against non-payment of salary, dues and the indifferent attitude of the National Aviator’s Guild (NAG) in taking up the issue with the management,” the source said.

The NAG is a domestic pilots body of Jet Airways, representing over 1,000 pilots.

The airline said in a statement the flights were cancelled due to an “unforeseen operational circumstance, and not pilot non-cooperation”. It, however, did not give the number of flights cancelled.

Another source said, “Some of the pilots have also written to airline chairman Naresh Goyal, stating that they are unwilling to work in this manner.”

Jet Airways said the passengers of the affected flights were duly informed about their flight status via SMS alerts and they have been re-accommodated or compensated.

Earlier, the pilots had met the airline management to discuss issues such as delay in payment of salaries, said a union member. “On 26 November, a consulting team from the management and from the union will meet in Mumbai to discuss among various issues, the salary delays,” the union member, who has worked with Jet for over two decades, said on condition of anonymity. 

Jet Airways, which had a 14.2% share of the domestic aviation market in September, needs to urgently raise cash to stay afloat as costly fuel and a weak rupee have eroded its financial health. The Tata Group is seen to be interested in buying a controlling stake in the airline.

Some Jet pilots and senior executives were paid only 75% of their September salary, and are yet to be paid full salary for October.

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