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Jet's attempt to make passengers smile backfires, thanks to cancellations

PW Bureau 

Many other passengers expressing anger at the carrier’s recent cancellations, delays in obtaining refunds and long response times to telephone calls New Delhi: With the hope of putting a smile on the faces of its passengers, cash-strapped Jet Airways placed pictures of smiling women employees on social media last week for Women’s Day, using the tagline “Standing tall; touching the skies.” This led to many passengers expressing anger at the carrier’s recent cancellations, delays in obtaining refunds and long response times to telephone calls. “Touching the skies’ is a good joke at a time when your flights are getting grounded,” said a respondent on Twitter.

Jet’s financial troubles

India’s second-largest carrier, hit by financial woes in recent months, has delayed salaries to its employees, has a debt of over US$ 1 billion, and owes money to banks, vendors and lessors due to rising fuel costs and competition. Lessors have also grounded over three dozen planes, forcing hundreds of aircraft to be cancelled in the process. This has caused increasing frustration for its passengers with some flyers considering a boycott and others blaming the cancellations for playing a spoilsport for their plans.

‘Disappointing and unprofessional’

“We had to worry about rebooking flights during our wedding when there is already so much to do,” said Siddhant Agarwal, a 32-year-old businessman whose flight home from his honeymoon was abruptly cancelled just days before his marriage. Agarwal, from New Delhi, had to pay nearly twice as much for new tickets, he said. “They did not even offer an apology, which is disappointing and unprofessional.” The embattled carrier had 556 flights on average in January, down from 641 a year back, according to the aviation regulator’s data. Jet Airways will most probably cancel over 600 flights this month, a source said.