Jet Pilots Appeal SBI To Release Rs 1,500 Cr Funds

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

The airline is operating just 6-7 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 Rs 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.

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 Rs 1,500 crore to the carrier to keep it afloat till the time it gets a 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 last on Friday could not take a decision on the fund infusion issue. 

Jet says intl ops to remain grounded till Apr 18

Jet Airways Monday said its services on overseas routes will remain grounded until April 18, even as the lenders failed to take a call on extending an emergency funding to the airline.

In an internal communication, chief executive Vinay Dube also said the airline’s board will meet Tuesday to discuss the next step for the carrier.

This is the third time that airline has extended suspension of these flights, which was first announced for last Thursday.

“We have extended cancellation of international operations through Thursday, April 19,” Jet Airways chief executive Vinay Dube said in a communication. But it later clarified that the extension was to run through April 18.

Dube said the decision was taken following the non- receipt of funds from its lenders, who have now management control of the airline following a debt-restructuring plan last month.

“We have been working with the lenders to secure interim funding for our operations. The interim funding has not been forthcoming thus far,” he added.

He also said the current status of engagement with the lenders and other related matters will be placed before the board Tuesday morning to seek guidance on the next steps.

Its long-haul overseas operations is carried out by wide-body Boeing B777s and Airbus A330s while it deploys smaller B737s into the Middle East, Saarc and Southeast Asia markets.

The airline has only seven planes in the fleet with six of them regional jets ATRs and one B737 now. Rest of the planes in its fleet of 123, is on ground due to non-payment of rentals to the lessors and lack of cash to purchase jet fuel.

Jet lenders still undecided on funding; board to meet Tuesday

Jet Airways’ survival remained under serious threat after its lenders Monday deferred a much-anticipated decision to provide emergency funds to the carrier following a marathon meeting, even as its pilots’ union appealed to the lenders and the prime minister to save the airline.

Jet Airways chief executive Vinay Dube in an internal communication has said the lenders could not decide on the emergency funding and that the board of the airline will meet Tuesday to take a call on the future.

“As you are aware, we have been working with the lenders to secure interim funding for our operations. The interim funding has not been forthcoming thus far, and as a result we have extended cancellation of international operations until April 19.

“The current status of our engagement with the lenders and other related matters shall be placed before the board tomorrow morning, where the management will seek guidance from the board on the next steps forward. We will keep you updated on all critical developments,” Dube said in a mail.

Jet Airways pilots’ union, the National Aviators Guild had Sunday deferred a decision to strike from Monday saying that it wanted to give more time to the airline ahead of the lenders’ meeting here.

On March 25, the airline’s board had approved ‘the debt resolution plan’, under which SBI-led consortium would provide an emergency loan of Rs 1,500 crore and in turn acquire majority stake, following which founder chairman Naresh Goyal and wife Anita would leave the airline and pare his stake to around 25 percent.

But banks have so far only under Rs 300 crore has been disbursed that too in small amounts, citing procedural delays.

This left the airline cancelling hundreds of flights as the airline failed to pay the lease rentals.

Currently it has just six-seven planes for operations, way below its peak of 123 planes in December.

A meeting between the airline management and its major lender SBI last week also could not take a decision on the fund infusion.

“We were expecting some cash support at Monday’s meeting but the lenders have told the airline that they are not going to provide any funds for now…We are disappointed,” said a source in the pilots’ union.

“If funds don’t come by tomorrow, we apprehend that the airline will not sustain any longer,” he said, adding much will depend on the outcome of the Tuesday board meeting.

Earlier in the day, the airline’s pilot union along with engineers and cabin crew members assembled at its headquarters to show their solidarity over salary delays.

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.

“We would like to appeal SBI to release Rs 1,500 crore funds to help the airline continue operations. We also appeal Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save 20,000 odd jobs at the airline,” NAG vice-president Adim Valiani told reporters at the airline’s headquarters here.

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