Turbulent days for full-service airline Jet Airways seem far from over. The carrier is said to have cancelled 10 domestic flights from Mumbai on Sunday, November 18, leaving hundreds of flyers stranded at the airport.
The carrier said that the the flights from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport had to be cancelled due to "operational issues" and that the passengers had been informed of the same through text messages.
"Jet Airways had to cancel a few domestic flights of date (November 18) due to operational reasons. Guests of the affected flights were duly informed about their flight status via SMS alerts. In accordance with regulatory policy, guests have been re-accommodated and or compensated," Jet Airways said in a statement.
However, sources close to the issue told the Press Trust of India that the carrier had cancelled the 10 flights as it was facing a shortage of pilots. The airline has been facing a severe cash crunch for a while now, due to which it has reportedly not been able to pay its pilots, engineers and senior management on time.
Several pilots are known to have left the brand and the carrier hasn't been able to get new ones to replace them. "The airline failed to operate as many as domestic 10 flights from Mumbai Sunday as it did not have required number of pilots," the source told PTI.
"Due to the abrupt cancellations, passengers who had booked their journey on these flights were left stranded."
Jet Airways has constantly made news for its financial woes and pilots are known to be facing serious salary issues. It was earlier reported that the airline had delayed the payments to its pilots and engineering staff after promising to make the payments by October 9.
"While the company has been diligent in running its payroll as per schedule for all employees, it is only in the last couple of months that the schedule has been impacted due to unavoidable reasons," the Economic Times had quoted the airline as saying.
"Despite these challenges, the company has ensured that 85% of its employees are paid salaries on time while those of the leadership, pilots and engineers have been delayed."
In the first week of November, it was also reported that the carrier was permitting pilots to quit without a notice period. Sources told the daily that several pilots had opted to leave due to the uncertainty around the future of the airline and the carrier did not ask them to serve a notice period, which is usually of about six months.
In the last few months, about 50 pilots are said to have quit and most of them reportedly left just 48 hours after resigning. In addition, most of these pilots were of Jet's ATR planes, three of which have already been grounded.
However, Jet Airways refuted these claims and said that reports on the departure of its employees were not accurate and that the attrition is within industry limits. "We strongly refute observations regarding the indicated numbers, timeframe as well as the nature of crew departures. Attrition is a part of any organisation and at Jet Airways, it is well within industry norms. The company respects the personal decisions of its employees to pursue opportunities outside the organisation," a Jet spokesperson told ET.