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Jet Airways pilots seek government help to recover unpaid salaries, with interest

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways flight information is seen at check-in counters inside the international airport in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Indian carrier Jet Airways’ pilots union has for the first time sought government help to recover pending salaries and dues from the airline, saying pleas to management have fallen on deaf ears.

The National Aviators Guild, which represents the majority of Jet’s pilots, has written to India’s labour minister to ask for help in getting the airline to pay outstanding salaries and allowances immediately, plus interest.

“This situation is leading to extreme tension and frustration amongst our members, hardly an ideal situation for pilots in cockpit,” captain Karan Chopra, president of the union, said in the letter seen by Reuters and dated March 6.

Jet has delayed payments to its pilots, suppliers and lessors for months and defaulted on loans after racking up more than $1 billion in debt. The airline is in talks with the country’s main state-backed banks for a rescue deal and emergency funds.

Last August the pilots were given a staggered schedule of payments for salaries but Jet has not kept up with them, the union said, adding that the airline still owes the pilots most of their salary for December and all of January and February.

Jet Airways issued a statement on Friday saying it has not received any such communication and remains committed to meet its salary obligations towards its employees and clearing all pending dues.

Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Aditi Shah; Editing by Euan Rocha and David Goodman