Airlines get breather on fuel bill
Job cuts in cash-strapped airlines came in for sharp criticism at a meeting on Wednesday between the government and the airline industry to discuss the payment of jet fuel bills and tariff cuts.india Updated: Oct 23, 2008 01:16 IST
Job cuts in cash-strapped airlines came in for sharp criticism at a meeting on Wednesday between the government and the airline industry to discuss the payment of jet fuel bills and tariff cuts.
Highly-placed sources said Petroleum Minister Murli Deora raised the issue of job cuts by airlines and remarked that such drastic steps should not be taken when the government is trying to support them. He was referring to the sacking of 1,900 employees by Jet Airways and their subsequent reinstatement after criticism of the move, and a leave-without-pay proposal
made by state-run Air India.
Last week, Menon had said Air India was planning to offer three to five years leave without pay to those eligible among 15,000 employees in an attempt to cut costs.
Sources said Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who was leading the airline industry at the talks, stated that Air India chairman and managing director Raghu Menon was quoted out of context on the issue and the matter has been resolved.
The two, they said, unequivocally stressed on the need for airlines to take a sympathetic view towards employees.
Later, talking to reporters, the civil aviation minister said airlines should protect jobs. “We have spoken to the airlines, they will have to be sympathetic to employees. We have told them we will try and help them further.”
“You (airline industry) cannot have support coming (from the government) without corresponding action,” he said.
It was decided at the meeting that airlines would be given six months to clear their current outstanding fuel bill, amounting to Rs 2,926 crore. The carriers have been also given extension of their credit period to 90 days as against 60 days at present (applicable till March 2009). Besides, the prices of aviation turbine fuel will henceforth be revised every fortnight in order to adjust to volatile international crude prices.
Besides Menon, Kingfisher chairman Vijay Mallya and Jet executive director Saroj Dutta were also present.