Jet lures fliers as ‘sick’ pilots return | india | Hindustan Times
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Jet lures fliers as ‘sick’ pilots return

With over 500 “sick” pilots reporting back to work, Jet Airways resumed some of its flights on Sunday after an early morning agreement between the management and pilots’ guild ended a five-day stir, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2009 08:38 IST
Lalatendu Mishra

With over 500 “sick” pilots reporting back to work, Jet Airways resumed some of its flights on Sunday after an early morning agreement between the management and pilots’ guild ended a five-day stir.

At 2.15 a.m., Jet’s executive director Saroj K Dutta announced to the media the end of impasse and restoration of all services. But most flights could not resume due to problems in restoring, last minute glitches and drastic drop in bookings on the domestic circuit.

The carrier had to cancel over 150 flights on Sunday, taking the number of grounded flights in six days to 1,300.

Jet had taken immediate steps to restore all international flights by Sunday, Sudhir Rahgavan, chief commercial officer, said. All domestic flights are expected to resume by Tuesday.

The carrier is believed to have lost Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) after its pilots called in sick en masse on September 8. The exact figures were still being worked out, said a senior finance department official who didn’t wish to be identified.

“We generally have a revenue of Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) a day and since the strike, passengers numbers dropped from 23,000 a day to 14,000 and then to 7,000. You can well imagine the loss,” said Dutta.

It was Dutta who broke the impasse with the pilots and got them to sign an agreement after an eight-hour long meeting on Saturday.

There was some resistance from a section of pilots over the future of the National Aviators Guild, but it was overcome.

“There has been a misunderstanding with management which has been solved... We will restore our airline’s glory,” said Captain Girish Kaushik, president of the guild.

Lack of a system to resolve their problems was the pilots’ primary concern and had led to the formation of the guild. Now, a consultative group, comprising board members, CEO and pilots, has been set up for the same.

There are clauses in the agreement that virtually render the guild irrelevant to cause industrial action, the one seen in the past week. The carrier had problems with the pilots coming together to form the guild.

Even as questions remain over its future, all four sacked pilots have been reinstated. Jet will also withdraw the writ petition filed in the Bombay High Court and not pursue the contempt petition.

No action will be taken against more than 500 pilots who reported sick. Chairman Naresh Goyal, too, made his peace with pilots in a hurriedly convened meeting on Sunday.

“From Sunday, let us write a new chapter in our proud history; let us strive ceaselessly to achieve excellence,” he said in a letter to employees.