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India: Jet Airways workers demand end to grounded airline's crisis

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India: Jet Airways workers demand end to grounded airline's crisis

India: Jet Airways workers demand end to grounded airline's crisis

Jet Airways employees held a demonstration in India's financial capital Mumbai on Wednesday, demanding a resolution to the grounded airline's crisis.

David Pollard reports.


India: Jet Airways workers demand end to grounded airline's crisis

Protests in Mumbai on Wednesday by some of the 22,000 employees of India's Jet Airways ... And a plea.

They're petitioning India's top court to order State Bank of India to release interim funding to revive the grounded airline.

Which halted all operations last month.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) A JET AIRWAYS' EMPLOYEE, NIDHI CHAFEKAR, SAYING: "We are just appealing that, you know, that please support us ...." Otherwise, it's feared, its lenders' rejection of a request for emergency funds could mean the end for what was once India's largest private airline.

216 million dollars was initially agreed in March, says Jet Airways' pilots' union .... But has not been paid.

(SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) A JET AIRWAYS' EMPLOYEE, SANDEEP DUBEY, SAYING: "We are facing a lot of issues financially.

Neither State Bank of India nor the government is giving any proper response.

We at least want a positive dialogue." Like others in the sector, Jet Airways has faced mounting losses and struggled to compete in a low-cost environment.

State Bank of India has invited bids from potential investors to take a stake.

So far none have shown interest publicly ahead of a May 10 deadline.

========================= Jet Airways pilots' union asks India's top court to direct lender to release funds Aditi Shah 3 MIN READ NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Jet Airways' pilots' union has appealed to India's top court to direct State Bank Of India (SBI) to release interim funding to try to revive the grounded airline, according to a court filing made on Tuesday which was reviewed by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2019.

REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo Jet halted all flight operations indefinitely on April 17 after its lenders rejected its plea for emergency funds, potentially the end of the line for what was once India's largest private airline.

The debt-laden airline has struggled to compete with low-cost carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet that now dominate Indian skies, and its mounting losses forced it to ground its planes.

The National Aviator's Guild said in its petition that SBI's decision to not give the interim funding of 15 billion rupees ($216 million), after agreeing to it in March as part a resolution plan, has resulted in the airline being grounded and has impacted the livelihood of Jet's 22,000 employees.

This "singular decision" by SBI was responsible for the operations of Jet Airways coming to a stop and "substantial de-valuation/depreciation in the value of Jet", the union said in the court filing.

SBI, as part of the resolution plan, has also invited bids from potential investor to take a stake in Jet.

So far no bidders have publicly shown interest and the final bids are expected to be submitted by May 10.

There was no immediate comment from SBI.

Without the emergency funds Jet was unable to pay rentals on its leased aircraft, forcing lessors to take back planes.

Its slots have been temporarily re-allocated to other airlines and some of its pilots and other employees who have not been paid in months have taken up jobs elsewhere.

The union has asked the Supreme Court to direct the civil aviation ministry and aviation regulator to decline any further de-registration requests for Jet's leased aircraft and not to reassign its slots to other airlines permanently, according to the filing.

Allocation of Jet's slots, allotment of its seats under the international bilateral agreement with other airlines and handing over its de-registered aircraft to other carriers without following due process has "further devalued the worth of Jet Airways", the union said in its petition.

"The consequence is that there is hardly any likelihood of some serious buyer for the airline," the pilots' union said in the petition, urging the court to act swiftly.

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