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Jet Airways Back In Business

As pilots end strike Jet Airways to resume full operations

Sep 13, 2009

Jet Airways (India) Ltd., the nation’s largest carrier by market value, said it will resume full operations today after reaching an agreement with some of its pilots who had been on strike for the past five days.

The airline reinstated the four pilots it fired and formed a consultative group to deal with future labor issues, Jet Airways said in a statement. More than 1,000 flights were scrapped during the strike, leading to daily revenue losses of about $2.2 million, Vice President K.G. Vishwanath told reporters today in Mumbai, where the company is based.

The strike forced Jet Airways to cancel about 230 flights a day since Sept. 8, affecting as many as 100,000 passengers over the five days, he said. The airline scrapped flights after pilots belonging to the newly formed National Aviators Guild called in sick, refusing to work until the carrier recalled the four pilots dismissed for initiating steps to form the union.

“A potential challenge in the form of labor unrest is something that the industry will now be concerned about,” said Binit Somaia, South Asia director at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. “Labor unrest is not something the India’s private airlines had to deal with in the past. Now most carriers will be concerned.”

Domestic bookings slumped 39 percent to 14,000 a day since the strike began, Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer, said Sept. 9. International reservations were down 9.5 percent to 9,500 a day. Bookings fell to 7,000 in the last two days of the strike, Executive Director Saroj K. Datta said.

Double Rates

Rival carriers began to charge fares at almost double the usual rates after the strike hampered Jet Airways’ operations, the Daily News & Analysis newspaper reported Sept. 11, without saying where it got the information. India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation asked airlines to charge fares at rates that prevailed in the week ended Sept. 6, according to a statement from the Press Information Bureau.

As many as 400 captains and first officers protested the firing of their colleagues, said Sam Thomas, general secretary of the Guild. The airline then asked a court to force the striking pilots to return to work.

The consultative group the carrier formed to deal with labor issues will have two directors from the board of the airline, the chief executive officer and five representatives of the pilots, Jet Airways said.

No System

Pilots formed the Guild as they were concerned about the lack of a system to facilitate a dialogue between them and the management, Jet Airways said. The Guild continues to exist as of now, said Girish Kaushik, its president. He didn’t elaborate.

Shares of Jet Airways rose 2 percent to 258.55 rupees in Mumbai on Sept. 11. The stock has gained 27 percent this year.

Jet Airways posted a first-quarter loss of 2.25 billion rupees ($46 million) as slowing economic growth damped travel demand. The airline may post its worst annual loss in a decade in the year ending in March, according to data on the Bloomberg.

The airline slashed flights to the U.S. and other long-haul destinations to save as much as $600 million this year.

Airline losses globally may total $9 billion this year, according to the International Air Transport Association, almost double the group’s previous forecast.

As pilots end strike Jet Airways to resume full operations
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