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Jet Airways asks its pilots to go on a sabbatical

PW Bureau

Sharing a new roster for its crew on Boeing 737 aircraft, the airline said the flight crew will be assigned on a 5-day working and 3-days off roster from April 11 to April 26 New Delhi: With the grounding of planes and its current fleet strength dwindling to 35 airplanes, Jet Airways has offered a six-month sabbatical to its pilots in an official communication on Tuesday. Sharing a new roster for its crew on Boeing 737 aircraft, the airline said, "Due to changes in operational requirement, B737 flight crew will be assigned on a 5-day working and 3-days off roster from April 11 to April 26." "Additionally, flight crew seeking a long break/sabbatical between April-September 2019 may put in their requests to the fleet office for approval," it added.

The backdrop

The communication comes just days after the National Aviators' Guild (NAG) deferred its 'no-flying' call to April 15. They had earlier warned the management that pilots would not fly planes from April 1 as their salaries had not been cleared and there was little clarity over a resolution plan. Even as the management has offered pilots a sabbatical, it is yet to clear their salaries for the months of January, February and March. Even as a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India have taken control of the airline and put together a rescue package, the crisis is far from over as the promised emergency funding of Rs 1,500 crore is yet to come. This was also evident on Monday as the DGCA approved the summer schedule of Jet Airways only till April 26.

Past precedent

Jet has earlier asked its pilots to go on a leave of absence in March. The airline had then asked its expat pilots to be on a leave of absence from April 1 until further notice. The leave denies pilots monetary benefits. Jet's fleet is now down to around 30 aircraft from 119 planes earlier. It was forced to ground aircrafts as it defaulted on payments to lessors. The airline now plans to bring back some of these grounded planes back to service over the next two months. But the revival plan is on hold till the time banks infuse the promised sum.