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Jet employees meet Jaitley, appeal for govt’s support in reviving airline

Jet Airways aircraft parked at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Expres photo by Pradip Das)

A group of Jet Airways employees led by the airline's chief executive officer Vinay Dube met Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley Saturday in the capital to appeal for government's support in reviving the grounded airline. The meeting, which lasted almost 90 minutes, was also attended by Maharashtra's finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

On April 17, Jet Airways announced temporary closure of the airline's operations after a consortium of bankers led by State Bank of India refused immediate fund infusion of Rs 983 crore into India's oldest private airline. According to sources present at the meeting with Jaitley, the employees urged the finance minister to have the stake sale process of Jet Airways expedited. After having taken management control of the airline the bankers are now in the process of finding a new investor for the carrier. The exercise is expected to conclude by May 10.

One of the staff representatives at the meeting also urged Jaitley to ask the banks release sufficient amount to pay one month's salaries to Jet's employees to arrest the attrition in the company. "To keep them where they are and to give them hope we need to pay them at least a month’s salary or more. The finance minister has assured us to look into that," Dube said after the meeting. He also said competition in the aviation sector is "important" and requested the Union Finance Minister to ensure an "open, transparent and efficient" bidding process.

The Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEWA) also submitted a representation to Jaitley, saying "the airline is sinking for want of funds and taking away the livelihood of 23,000 people". The airline, which has more than 16,000 employees on its payrolls, has recently saw a flurry of exits to rival airlines. About 150 cabin crew members of the airline have joined flag-carrier Air India, while another 200 have been picked by budget carrier SpiceJet. The Gurugram-based private airline has also hired 100 pilots from Jet Airways. Even prior to the airline's temporary closure, the employees have gone unpaid for almost three months. WITH PTI