150 Flights Cancelled; Jet Chief Says Pilots Behaving like Terrorists

After over 400 pilots failed to report on duty on second consecutive day, more than 150 domestic and overseas Jet Airways flights were cancelled on Wednesday, leaving passengers stranded. In the meanwhile, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal has warned his pilots of stern action if they behave like “terrorists” and continue to report sick “in violation of a Bombay High Court order”.

With the stir continuing, Naresh Goyal called on Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in Delhi and briefed him about the situation. Following the meeting, both Patel and Goyal refused to entertain queries from reporters.

It is believed that the minister has asked Goyal to take steps immediately to put an end to the agitation.

After 432 out of 1056 pilots of Jet Airways went on a mass leave, as many as 153 flights, 19 of them international, were cancelled across the country on second day, said a company spokesman in Mumbai. The total number of pilots includes 160 expats.

Goyal warned his pilots of stern action if they behave like “terrorists” and continue to report sick “in violation of a Bombay High Court order”.

“They are behaving like terrorists. They cannot hold the country, passengers and the airline hostage,” Goyal said.

“I am open to meeting and talking to the pilots. I will be more than happy to meet them. But they cannot harass the passengers,” he said.

“We won’t tolerate such blackmail. The livelihood of more than 30,000 employees of Jet Airways is at stake,” the airline chief said after another round of meetings with top government officials in New Delhi.

“This is pure and simple contempt of court,” he added, referring to the Bombay High Court order on Tuesday evening, restraining the pilots from any form of strike in the country’s largest private airline.

He made it clear that the company did not recognise the National Aviators Guild (NAG), spearheading the stir to demand reinstatement of some pilots who were sacked for forming the NAG, which claims a membership of 680.

Asked about the demand for reinstatement of the sacked pilots, he said that the agitators were “misleading” other pilots. “Action will be taken as per the rules,” he said.

In Delhi, ten flights remained cancelled even as the airlines assured passengers of the disrupted flights that they it will give full refund for the tickets. In Chennai, the Airways cancelled six domestic flights

However, international flights to various destinations, including Singapore, operated as scheduled, airport sources saids. Two Jet Airways flights, including one to Sharjah, and were also cancelled in Kochi.

The airlines is trying to accommodate passengers of Jet Airways in its low-cost arm JetLite besides Air India and other carriers. The pilots are protesting against the management’s decision to sack two senior pilots. The airways had last month terminated their services after they along with others formed a trade union body in the company.

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