The Jet Airways employees protest came against SBI’s struggles to find a buyer for the crisis-hit airline. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Jet Airways’ Employees Protest Outside Civil Aviation Ministry

Jet Airways (India) Ltd. employees protested outside the Civil Aviation Ministry in New Delhi on Tuesday, demanding revival of the crisis-hit airline and payment of their pending salaries.

The protests comes as the State Bank of India-led consortium of lenders struggling to find a buyer for Jet Airways, which was grounded in mid-April due to acute liquidity crisis.

Around 200 Jet Airways employees demonstrated with banners reading "Hear our cry, let 9W fly", "We fly you around, don't let us be on ground", "We have dependents to feed, please don't let 9W bleed" and "A family helps each other for cleaning house".

9W is the flight code for Jet Airways.

As the protesting Jet Airways employees moved towards the ministry, Delhi Police and CRPF personnel erected barriers to stop them.

Three employees of the grounded full-service carrier met SK Mishra, joint secretary in the civil aviation ministry.

"We have given him (Mishra) an update about today's conditions within Jet Airways... We have not got salaries for the last five months. In between, our medical coverage has also been stopped as the management has told us that they have no revenue,” said Asish Kumar Mohanty, one of the Jet Airways employees who met Mishra.

Also read: Will Create Transparent Procedure To Allocate Jet Airways’ Flying Rights To Others, Says Kharola

"We told him about three important concerns for the airline—employees' pending salaries, no management is there now to look after Jet Airways, and expedition of SBI's bidding process," he added.

Jet Airways' Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube, Chief Financial Officer Amit Agarwal, Company Secretary and Compliance Officer Kuldeep Sharma and Chief People Officer Rahul Taneja had resigned from their respective posts on May 14.

"The joint secretary said the government is very much concerned about Jet Airways crisis. He said that the higher officers know about it and dialogue and meeting are going on. We told him that the dialogue and meeting have been going on for the last 3-4 months, but nothing has been done on paper as yet," Mohanty said.

He said Mishra was told that Jet Airways' planes are being de-registered and the primary concern is the pending salaries of employees.

According to Mohanty, the joint secretary said he will tell his "top bosses" about the employees' concerns. The central government would be given a petition on Tuesday itself, he added.

Also read: Air India To Be First Beneficiary Of Jet Airways’ Overseas Rights, Says Official

The lenders, whom Jet Airways owes over Rs 8,000 crore, are offering 31.2 percent to 75 percent stake in the company on a fully diluted basis.

SBI Capital Markets Ltd., the merchant banking arm of SBI, had on behalf of lenders invited expressions of interest from April 8-12, and received four preliminary bids.

These 26 lenders own 51 percent stake in the airline.

After the first round of bids, private equity firms IndiGo Partners and TPG Capital, Etihad Airways PJSC and India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund were shortlisted.

Etihad Airways has offered to maintain its 24 percent stake in the airline, instead of addressing the Jet Airways crisis.

Bloomberg Quint

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