Airlines try to poach Jet commanders, co-pilots

Airlines try to poach Jet commanders, co-pilots

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 13 (IANS) Financially beleaguered Jet Airways faces another crisis as other airlines try to poach its commanders and co-pilots, luring them with lucrative offers with a stable monthly pay.

According to industry insiders, the airline which is under massive financial strain has partly paid its employees for several months.

“These circumstances have made it possible for the other airlines to poach its pilots. However, they have not met with much success as the company is on the verge of getting a reprieve,” sources told IANS in Mumbai.

“Additionally, the work-life balance at the company was regarded as the very best in the industry.”

Jet currently has 1,900 pilots on its rolls. This is now being looked by all other domestic airlines, especially those who are looking at international expansion. Vistara has been permitted to fly abroad while SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir all have bullish overseas plans.

The development comes even as speculation is rife that Etihad Airways has set several conditions to extend a financial lifeline to save Jet. Still, the passenger carrier grounded four more aircraft over non-repayment of dues to lessors, taking the total to 32.

The company in BSE filings has said that its 19 aircraft were grounded in February over non-repayment of dues to lessors, while 13 aircraft were grounded this month, taking the total to 32. The Jet Airways Group operates a fleet of 123 aircraft.

However, around 50 planes are said to be non-operational due to a host of reasons, including lack of spare parts.

With regular grounding of aircraft, sources said close to 50 per cent of the airline’s fleet is not operational. Analysts said the situation is fast moving on the path taken by now-defunct Kingfisher Airline.

“Further to our letter dated 7 March, 2019, we now write to inform you that an additional four aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements,” the airline said in a regulatory filing to the BSE on Tuesday.

“The company also continues to provide required and periodic updates to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in this regard.”

The development assumes significance as the Gulf-based Etihad Airways, which holds 24 per cent stake in the Indian airline, and a new partner, are said to have set several conditions to extend a financial lifeline to save Jet Airways.

According to reports, Etihad Airways and a new partner will together invest around Rs 4,000 crore to revive the airline.

The reports, based on an MoU apparently signed between Etihad and Jet, said that the company’s founder Naresh Goyal and his wife will step down from the airline’s board.

On March 8, the cash-strapped Jet Airways’ outgoing Chairman Goyal had sought an immediate funding of Rs 750 crore from Etihad.

In a letter written to Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas on March 8, he had sought the funding by early next week.

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