- Aug 7, 2009
Closing down Airways an option, says Jet chief - India Business - Business - NEWS - The Times of IndiaImages of irate passengers being played out by TV channels throughout Tuesday finally made the 59-year-old Jet Airways chief Naresh
Goyal come to a harsh decision by late evening. "I will not hesitate to close down the airline
if the people who work for it no longer believe in its philosophy of discipline, guest care, safety and punctuality that has taken Jet where it is today," Goyal told TOI.
Goyal said this even as the airline claimed it was going to be firm on not taking back the two pilots sacked earlier allegedly for forming a union. Jet has said it’s going to dismiss three more pilots, including the chief of its association of Indian pilots.
"I have no disagreement with pilots. However, I cannot tolerate any breach of the basic principle of discipline. I am ready to reinstate the two sacked pilots (till then three more sackings were still to be announced) if they say they stand by our philosophy," Goyal said.
The Jet founder had two rounds of meeting with aviation secretary M M Nambiar and DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi on Tuesday morning. While the ministry expressed its concern at passenger discomfort due to flight cancellations and wanted the airline management to amicably resolve the issue with pilots, highly placed sources said Goyal was adamant on one word—discipline.
It is learnt that the meeting saw references being drawn to how indiscipline had led to the fall of some big airlines. "Almost every Indian airline will have to deal with HR issues shortly. How the government deals with the ongoing pilot crisis in Jet could well decide the way issues with other carriers are resolved in the future," said a source.
Whether Jet goes soft on the pilot crisis like it did last year after sacking close to 2,000 cabin crew remains to be seen, but so far it has been acting tough. Late on Monday night pilots, who were rostered to operate international flights to places like London, Brussels, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, started reporting sick. Almost immediately, Jet started sending doctors to their homes, who found the pilots airworthy but grounded due to dispute with the management.
However, cynics point out that Jet, like all other big airlines, is facing serious financial troubles and could be using this crisis to declare a lockout. After all, only last month, the Federation of Indian airlines had threatened to go on strike if its demands like reducing jet fuel prices were not met. While the demands weren’t met, the airlines had called off the strike.
Asked if this crisis was being used to draw attention to the critical situation in the Indian aviation industry, Goyal said, “Financial crisis or not, I won’t tolerate any compromise with Jet’s basic principles. This airline has set global standards and done India proud. For me, the country comes first, then the company and then individuals. If the people who work for us do anything that goes against this, I will not hesitate to close down.’’
Its interesting how he is handling things. While I am not sure whether he is bluffing or not, but the way the pilots staged the "Mass Sick Leave" event, its disheartening to say the least.