Jet Airways fiasco: India’s forex kitty hit as Qatar, British Airways, Etihad take international slots

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Updated: Apr 29, 2019 1:18 PM

In India, Air India and Jet Airways had the major share of international routes. With Jet grounding, international airlines have jumped to make the most of it.

Jet Airways, जेट एयरवेज, Cash Crisis, Naresh Goyal, Bidding, Jet Airways Board MeetingJet Airways Representational Image

The Jet Airways crisis has not just left a void in the Indian aviation industry but is also costing India its forex, President of Engineering Union of Jet Airways told Financial Express Online. While the domestic slots of the airline have been given to rival SpiceJet and Air India and IndiGo, its international slots have been taken up by international airlines such as Qatar and British Airways, resulting in a considerable loss to India’s forex inflows.

Jet Airways has served the international skies for 14 years from 2005 to 2019. “We used to have daily flights to London, Manchester, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris. Who is coming up now to take these slots? Emirates, Qatar, Cathay Pacific, British Airways etc. Indian airlines have got the domestic slots but what about international slots?” Ashish Mohati, President of JAMEWA (Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s Welfare Association) told Financial Express Online.

In India, Air India and Jet Airways had the major share of international routes. With Jet grounding, British Airways has jumped to make the most of it. “British Airways immediately stopped its flight to London and Johannesburg and now is flying more aircraft to India to cater to our passengers [Jet Airways]. Who is getting the forex money, we are losing forex money,” he added.

Also, in the Middle East, India’s 90 per cent of the expatriates are working there. “Jet Airways was the biggest flyer to the Middle East. These people are now taking Qatar and Emirates. Who is making the money then?” Ashish Mohati said. “The real financial loss is to the government of India,” he added.

Previously, three of Jet Airways’ London Heathrow slots were given to Etihad, UK’s Airport Coordination Ltd data said.

The employee crisis

Around 22,000 of Jet’s employees in direct and non-direct jobs have suffered the crisis first-hand. “Jet Airways board is defunct, all board members have resigned. A lot of news is doing the rounds, saying that Gulf airlines are interested in Jet but nothing as of now is happening at the ground level. We will be happy if someone infuses the fund, be it Mukesh Ambani or Gulf NRIs. The delay is going to kill it,” Captain KS Cheema told Financial Express Online. However, the question is how many people can the other companies absorb?

However, it is not just about finding a job, the loss of four month’s pay is also an issue. “The jobs are there. Job is not an issue. We have spent 20-25 years but will other carriers give us the Class 1 jobs? We don’t know who is intervening,” Ashish Mohati said.

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