Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal on Thursday, while addressing the company’s shareholders at the 26th annual general meeting, said that he felt guilty and embarrassed as a lot of shareholders have lost their money, amid the airline’s shares plummeting on financial woes. Facing an acute cash crunch, the airline said it is looking at multiple elements of restructuring (costs) and “pay-roll is one of them”. Jet Airways has been in discussion with its pilots and the engineering work force to cut salaries by a 15%, a move stalled by this section of employees.
The airline’s CEO Vinay Dube said , “We are in deep dialogue with staff and will make the best decision in the best interest of the employees and company.” “Lot of people have lost money, now we need to turnaround (the airline),” Goyal said. Though he did not get into the specifics of how and what the airline’s turnaround plan is and from where the airline will raise the much-needed capital, he did say that the focus will be to set the ball rolling for the key initiatives to build a healthy enterprise. Striking the right partnerships with global airlines, strengthening the existing alliance with Etihad and broadening its co-operation with Air India are some of the things Goyal said Jet’s management is focusing on.
He also emphasised that his top-level executives lead by two-time CEO Nikos Kardasis, whom Goyal got back to Jet in May this year, will spend 80% of their time focusing on revenue management and that there is a group created to look into manpower, productivity and costs at the airline.
Goyal also spoke about the perceptions in the market about his family running the airline, emphasising that the board at Jet Airways is an independent one and henceforth the management executive committee meetings at the airline will be chaired by Nasim
Zaidi, a former civil aviation secretary, along with Ashok Chawla, also a bureaucrat who once headed the civil aviation ministry and is now a non-executive independent director at the airline.
Emphasising the need for cooperation in the industry, Goyal said that he believes in broad-basing his relations with national carrier Air India as the problems faced by the airlines are common. “There will be no fighting, we will co-operate on engineering , flight operations and work together.”Goyal also emphasised that there will be deepening of partnership with its existing equity partner, Middle East carrier Etihad, and the airline will look for more transiting passengers from its hub at Abu Dhabi to the US.
The airline is strengthening its European footprint with offering more flights than any other Indian or European carrier. “We have 30 additional domestic destinations to Europe more than Lufthansa (16) and British Airways (17).” Also, it will look at partnering with other carriers for markets in Africa, Greece and Cyprus, and explore this with Emirates. Ruing the fact that competition has managed to put Jet down in terms of its on-time performance and also the negative publicity the airline gets on social media, Goyal said the airline will convey the message through social media as to how committed the airline is and also dispel perception as to “why somebody else’s OTP is good and not ours.” “Our customers tell us to improve so that we become a first-class airline again and the first choice of passengers,”