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Bank Unions Write to PM Modi, Want Govt to Take Over Jet Airways

Mumbai: Bank unions Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take over grounded Jet Airways to secure the future of the 22,000-odd employees of the carrier. In a letter to Modi, the All-India Bank Employees Association also said government must ensure that banks are not forced to lend to the crippled airline.

After flying for 25 years, Jet Airways on Wednesday announced grounding of operations after its lenders declined an interim funding of Rs 400-crore. “We learn that banks have invited bids to possible investors to take over the airline. If it does not happen, we urge you to take over the airline so that the jobs of these 22,000 employees are safe,” the association said.

At the same time the unions opposed any move to force banks to lend more money to the airline. “Everyone is looking at the banks to bail out the airline as though lenders are the owners,” the unions said, also demanded an enquiry into the affairs of Jet. “Naresh Goyal is still the promoter and major shareholder with 51 percent stake and it is his headache to run the company or sell it someone,” the unions said.

The attempts to sidetrack the whole issue by building pressure on the banks to extend further loan and save the company is only with a view to keep Goyal out of the picture whereas he is the real man who is answerable for the whole crisis, the unions claimed.
“We seek the immediate intervention of the government so that banks are not pressurised to dole out more money,” the letter said.

The airline owes more than Rs 8,500 crore to banks and around Rs 4,000 crore to its vendors and aircraft lessors and months of salaries to the employees apart from thousands of crores of rupees in ticket refunds to passengers.

That apart it has an accumulate loss of over Rs 13,000 crore. A consortium of banks led by State Bank had said they were hopeful of a successful bidding process for stake sale in the airline.

The 26 lenders to the cash strapped airline, now own 51 percent stake in the airline, have invited bids from potential suitors and received four bids from Etihad Airways, NIFF, TPG and Indigo Partners and expect to close the deal by May 10.

Source: News18