Was it a mix of warning and assurance of help from the government, and not emotion that made Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal take back the 1,900 sacked employees ?
The government is believed to have assured early action on the most pressing issue confronting the airline industry, namely the high cost of jet fuel prices, officials said.
“I am only asking the government for rationalization of taxes on jet fuel, which is 70 per cent more in India than any other country,” Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said on Friday. “This will help the industry revive.”
After airlines met with the prime minister in June, the government set up a panel to look into the issue, which involves bringing states on board to cut taxes on aviation turbine fuel.
Goyal, announcing the reinstatement of the sacked employees late on Thursday, had said “certain economic conditions” were responsible for the layoff decision by his management.
Although Goyal had said that he was not acting under pressure, Patel said he had warned the Jet chairman that the sacking of the employees could undo the government’s efforts to find a solution to the “systemic issues” plaguing the airline industry.
“I told him to resolve the issue within 24 hours,” he said. “I said don’t put the government into a position where it has to say that if the airlines people are doing what they are doing why should we step in.”
It was not immediately clear if the government would ask oil companies to extend the credit cycle for airlines, which now runs 60 days. Jet owes Indin Oil Corporation Rs 859 crore, of which payment of Rs 250 crore has become overdue, PTI said. It owes another Rs 284 crore to Bharat Petroleum Corporation.