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Jet collapse: pilots ask PM to probe Etihad’s ‘role’

Claim another airline is ‘biggest gainer’

The Jet Airways pilots’ union has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe if Etihad Airways, the strategic investor in Jet Airways, and another private Indian carrier had any role in the collapse of the airline.

This is the first time that Etihad’s role has come under question.

Similar patterns

Citing similar patterns of closure of Etihad-invested airlines such as AirBerlin, Alitalia and Jet Airways, the letter said, “What we don’t know is the extent of the role played by Etihad in the events leading to the complete collapse of Jet Airways.”

“We urge you to intervene in the matter and order a probe to establish whether a larger conspiracy was at play, or of any collusion between State Bank of India (SBI) and Etihad, as the only one decimated here are Jet Airways employees and Jet Airways,” the letter signed by Captain Karan Chopra, president, National Aviator’s Guild (NAG), the Jet Airways’ pilots’ union, said.

An e-mail to Etihad seeking its comment on the allegations remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

Pointing out the frequent changed stance of Etihad in the execution of a resolution plan starting January, the letter said though chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down and pledged his shares to avail the much-needed life support of ₹1,500 crore, Etihad had not put any funds or pledged any of its shares till date.

“Not surprisingly, SBI refused to put in the funds and claimed that it could not put in public money in the absence of binding guarantees and collaterals. This led to Jet Airways suspending operations on April 17, 2019,” it added.

“Since the suspension of operations, a lot is being revealed which, alludes to conspiracy, collusion and downright dismemberment of Jet Airways in a systematic and planned manner,” the letter said.

It added that while the ‘biggest losers’ had been Jet Airways employees and the travelling public, “the biggest gainer in this sordid saga is an [unnamed] airline.”

Till such time the probe is completed, the Prime Minister should prevail upon Etihad and SBI to infuse critical funds to help Jet meet its statutory obligations of PF, taxes and gratuity, ascertain the legality of 50.1% holding of Etihad in Jet Privilege, and review the bilaterals awarded to Etihad afresh, the union wrote.

The pilots also asked the Prime Minister to ascertain whether any premeditated conspiracy was at play to delay the bids’ declaration or any illegal move to allow individuals who have bid as individuals to now team up as a consortium.

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