Mumbai: Struggling carrier Jet Airways engineers body, Jamewa Wednesday met chief executive Vinay Dube and sought an early payment of salary dues even as the airline delayed March payment to its all 16,000 employees for the third time since September last year.
Meanwhile, the operational fleet strength Jet Airways, where the lenders are set to take control as part of a debt resolution plan, reduced to 26, as per a flight tracking website.
However, aviation regulator DGCA and civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said that Jet Airways is operating "28 planes", including 15 aircraft in the domestic route.
"Jet Airways Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEWA) during the meeting pressed for the early payment of overdue salaries. We were told that the intent of management is to clear the arrears as soon as the lenders release the much-needed funds," the association informed its members in a post-meeting communication.
Jet Airways has nearly 560 engineers to maintain its fleet of around 100 planes. The JAMEWA claims representing around 490 engineers.
The management also told the association that the documentation procedure regarding the debt-recast plan was at the final stages and expected to be ready by Wednesday ahead of the meeting with the lenders scheduled for Thursday, as per the communication.
Dubey during the meeting also assured the engineers of providing an update on the developments by Friday.
The airline had been delaying the salaries of its pilots, engineers and senior staff since August who have not been paid since January.
Earlier in the day Jet Airways chief people officer Rahul Taneja in a communication to employees said that the airline had deferred their March salary payment to a later date.
"Given the complexities of such (finalisation of the resolution plan) processes, it has taken us longer than expected. However, we continue to strive and are in continuous deliberations with the lenders and institutions to find a solution," Taneja said.
Jet Airways had delayed payment of salaries to its employees twice last year as well.
On March 25, Jet Airways board had approved a resolution plan formulated by SBI-led domestic lenders, under which had agreed to infuse an emergency funding of Rs 1,500 crore into the airline, and convert the same into equity worth 50.1 percent for a notional value of just Re 1 each share.
"In the current difficult times, the management team has been working with the lenders and other institutions to finalise a resolution plan which will help us stabilise our operations and build a sustainable future for the airline," Taneja said.
As per the website, Jet Airway operated a total of 26 planes on Wednesday, including eight Boeing 737s, seven ATRs, Eight B777s and three A330s out of an effective fleet of 99 planes. The remaining 73 planes were out of operations.
Earlier in the day, asked about the active fleet of Jet Airways, Kharola, on the sidelines of an aviation conference in the capital, said, "yesterday, it was 28".
When told that the airline has announced grounding 15 more aircraft, he said that then the current fleet would be "less than about 15".
In the afternoon, a DGCA spokesperson said Jet Airways continues to fly 28 aircraft as on date.
In the evening, Kharola clarified to PTI that Jet Airways is operating around 28 planes and out of them, about 15 are operating in the domestic routes.
However, Jet Airways on its part refused to share the specific number of planes and flights it operated on Wednesday despite repeated attempts.