Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jet Airways crisis worsens as Indian government steps in, pilots threaten strike

New Delhi: A crisis at India’s Jet Airways deepened on Tuesday as an increasingly worried Indian government called for an emergency meeting, angry passengers demanded refunds and pilots threatened to go on strike over unpaid salaries.

India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, asked his officials to call for a meeting to discuss grounding of flights, advance bookings, cancellations, refunds, and any potential safety issues, at the cash-strapped carrier.

Saddled with debt of more than $1 billion, Jet is struggling to stay aloft. It has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors - some of whom have started cancelling their lease deals with the airlines.

The groundings have forced Jet to cancel hundreds of flights, some at the last minute, leaving passengers stranded. Many have taken to social media to voice their angst.

Jet is currently operating only 41 aircraft, just a third of its original fleet, the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said in a statement, adding that the situation is fluid and the airline may be forced to reduce its fleet further in coming weeks.

Several angry passengers were seen demanding pending refunds for canceled flights at Jet’s offices in Mumbai earlier on Tuesday, a source told Reuters.
20/03/19 Aditi Shah/Reuters

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