MUMBAI: Hinting at job losses going forward, grounded carrier Jet Airways chief executive Vinay Dube Wednesday said the airline does not have an “answer” at present on the fate of its 20,000-odd employees during the stake sale process.
The SBI-led consortium of lenders has offered prospective bidders ownership of the airline anywhere between 31.2 per cent and 75 for which it had run an online bidding process between April 8 and 12 and had shortlisted four – Etihad Airways, NIIF, private equity funds TPG Capital and Indigo Partners-who can submit the final bids by May 10.
“However, we must also be realistic that the sale process will take some time and will throw up several more challenges for us, many of which we don’t have the answer today,” Dube said in a communication to the harried employees who have not been paid since March.
“For example, we don’t have an answer today to the very important question of what happens to employees during the sale process,” he added.
Nevertheless, he said the leadership team is working on answering such questions alongside the lenders.
Jet owes over three months salaries to 15 per cent of the staff comprising senior management, pilots and engineers.
Besides, it has also defaulted on the March salary of its entire workforce.
Dube, in the letter said the decision to shut the operations temporarily was taken after painstaking evaluation of all alternatives and guidance and advice of the board.
“A decision like this is never easy to make, but without the interim funding, which we have been repeatedly requesting for, we are simply unable to conduct flight operations in a manner that delivers to the very reasonable expectations of our guests, employees, partners and service providers,” he said.
Over the past several weeks and months, the airline has tried every means possible to seek funding, both interim as well as long-term funds, to keep the operations going, but could not succeed, he said.
“Late last night we were informed by SBI, on behalf of the consortium of the lenders, that they are unable to consider our request for interim funding of Rs 983 crores,” he said adding, however, this was declined.
But public statements from the airline, and government officials Tuesday said the management was looking for a lifeline of Rs 400 crore.
“But, tomorrow is another day and tomorrow provides us with new hope, new opportunity and new expectations we are worth investing in, you are worth investing in and we confident that we will be back to share the joy of flying with our fellow-guests once again,” Dube signed off with an emotional touch.