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Jet Airways pilots appeal to SBI for funds, ask PM Modi to save 20,000 jobs

Jet Airways’ crew wait outside the Mumbai office for the decision on the fund infusion (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Cash-strapped Jet Airways’ pilots body Monday appealed to the State Bank of India (SBI) to release funds to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore that the bank had proposed to infuse into the ailing carrier as part of a debt-restructuring plan last month, news agency PTI reported. The pilots union, National Aviator’s Guild has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to save the 20,000 jobs at stake, the agency reported.

Accumulated losses over the last decade has resulted in Jet Airways delaying payments to banks, lessors and employees. This led to founder Naresh Goyal being forced to give up control of the carrier. Jet Airways is currently under the control of an SBI-led consortium of lenders.

A meeting is underway between the airline management and the lenders, and a decision on the fund infusion is likely to take place today.

The pilots along with engineers and senior management have not received their salaries for three months, whereas employees of other categories have not been paid for the month of March. After the management failed to adhere to the April 14 deadline given by the union to clear their salary dues, the pilots had announced a 'no pay, no work' strike. It however deferred the strike in view of a critical meeting between the airline management and the SBI.

As part of the bailout plan worked out by the lenders, Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal and one nominee of Etihad Airways, Kevin Knight, have stepped down from the board. The airline will create appropriate security over the company's assets for securing the existing facilities extended by the lenders and the proposed immediate funding support of up to Rs 1,500 crore by way of an appropriate debt instrument.