Government Should Protect ‘Historical Rights’ Of Jet Airways Over Its Slots: Employee Consortium
The Jet Airways (India) Ltd.'s Employees Consortium on Thursday said the central government should protect the airline's "historical rights" over its slots and encourage the National Infrastructure Investment Fund to invest in the full-service carrier.
After Jet Airways ran out of funds, it had shut down operations on April 17 and this led to a sudden rise in domestic and international airfares.
Consequently, the Centre decided to temporarily allocate the slots as well as international flying rights of Jet Airways to other airlines to start new flights to fill the supply gap.
A slot is a date and time on which an airline's aircraft is permitted to depart or arrive at an airport.
In a press conference, Amit Kelkar, Vice President, Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association said the central government should increase the foreign direct investment limit in scheduled airlines through automatic route to expedite the resolution plan of the defunct carrier.
He was reading out the statement of Jet Airways' Employees Consortium.
The Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association is a part of the airline's employees consortium.
On Sept. 16, the lenders to Jet Airways made a presentation to the South American conglomerate Synergy Group, which has reportedly emerged as sole potential buyer of the bankrupt airline.
The Centre's current policy on civil aviation sector does not permit foreign airlines to have more than 49 percent equity ownership.
Rajya Sabha members Sanjay Singh and Manoj Jha, and Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Lok Sabha member from BJD, also attended the press conference.
Majhi, who is a member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, assured the employees that he would raise the matter in the next meeting of the committee that would take place on Dec. 5.
In his speech, Sanjay Singh said, "in response to my question, (Civil Aviation Minister) Hardeep Puri said that the government has opened a website (for providing employment) and we are trying our level best that the employees of Jet Airways does not remain unemployed."
"When I asked him later in Parliament that employees are not getting jobs, he (Puri) replied that it is not our responsibility to give jobs....On these two statements, I will move a privilege motion... In Parliament, no minister can give false statements," he added.
Singh said that as the minister has given the assurance regarding jobs, he will ask him which of two statements of the minister is true.
The airline owes Rs 8,500 crore to banks and around Rs 25,000 crore in arrears to vendors, lessors and employees.
Kelkar, while reading the statement of employees' consortium, requested the central government to urgently intervene and take measures like debt to equity conversion, if it is desired by airline's creditors, to expeditiously resolve the matter.
Moreover, he asked the Centre to facilitate the release of Rs 63 crore from Bangladesh government to Jet Airways "as revenue from ticket sales".
He said that deposits of Rs 12 crore are lying with Indian Postal services and it should be released.
On the topic of slots, he said, "we request complete protection of the historical rights of Jet Airways over its slots. Government should honour its own assurance, and return the slots to Jet Airways."
"We also request government to encourage the National Infrastructure Investment Fund for investment in Jet Airways which bodes well and complements the investments in aviation infrastructure," he added.