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HC dismisses plea seeking directions to government to provide Jet Airways interim funding

On Thursday, the division bench of Bombay HC heard a petition, pleading the court to direct the government to give Jet Airways “minimum funds” to continue operations until the cash-strapped airlines is sold.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2019 12:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
bombay HC,jet airways,jet airways crisis
An empty counter is pictured at the ground floor of Jet Airways head office in Mumbai on April 18, 2019. (AFP)

The Bombay high court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking directions to the government to provide interim funding to Jet Airways. Meanwhile, Kiran Pawaskar of Jet Airways’ Officers & Staff Association said around 22,000 employees are without a job after Jet Airways, once India’s largest private airline, suspended operations on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice NM Jamdar heard a petition by advocate Mathews Nedumpara and three others, pleading the court to direct the government to give Jet Airways “minimum funds” to continue operations until the cash-strapped airlines is sold. The petition said the airline had been forced to suspend services because the State Bank of India (SBI) and a consortium of lenders had refused to provide critical interim funding.

However, the bench said that it had no jurisdiction to interfere and directed the petitioner to take the matter to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) before dismissing the petition.

Also Read | ‘Can’t sleep at night’: Despair over jobs as Jet Airways grounded

Meanwhile, more than 200 ground staff gathered outside Jet Airways’ office on Thursday afternoon. Many said they have gone without pay for two to four months. Pawaskar said, “Around 22,000 people are jobless since the announcement of temporary shutdown. This is a huge number and the government should work on this. I have written to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

Captain Asim Valiani, vice president of the National Aviator’s Guild, said, “I’ve been with Jet for 23 years and am shattered today,” he said, adding the guild would take the airline to court to seek unpaid wages. Approximately 400 pilots have moved to other airlines, leaving Jet with about 1,300 pilots, said a senior Jet pilot. About 40 engineers have also left, a senior engineer said.

For some, like 53-year-old baggage handler Bhoja Poojari, finding a new job is a daunting prospect. He has not been paid in nearly two months and may be forced to sell his house. “I feel like my hands are tied and I can’t sleep at night,” said Poojari.

Also Read | ‘We are at critical stage’: Jet asks staff to keep off media

Founded by Naresh Goyal in 1993, Jet Airways is India’s oldest private airline. At the height of its operations, Jet Airlines had a fleet of 123 planes and operated more than 600 flights daily on domestic and international routes. The airlines made losses in all quarters of 2018 and started defaulting on salaries from July 2018. In December last year, Jet Airways, faced with a debt of Rs 7,299 crore, defaulted on aircraft lease rentals. The airline’s fleet size dropped to double digits and finally to six earlier this month.

On March 25, Goyal was forced to resign from the board of directors after the SBI-led consortium of lenders took control of the airline’s management. In April, SBI began the process to sell Jet Airways, which is expected to conclude on May 10.

First Published: Apr 19, 2019 12:21 IST