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Jet Airways 'threatens' to bring foreign pilots on board - Sathish - 09-10-2009

MUMBAI: As the impasse between Jet Airways and its pilots continued for the second day, forcing the airline to cancel 174 domestic and 32 international flights on Wednesday, chairman Naresh Goyal did not rule out hiring foreign pilots if it came to that.

Asked if Jet Airways would think of recruiting foreign pilots, Mr Goyal, who met civil aviation minister Praful Patel in the Capital , said “yes ... we will request the government authorities. There are enough pilots available in the world” .

On Tuesday, the airline had cancelled 186 flights. In all, 432 pilots have gone on sick leave, with 360 not reporting for work on the first day. Jet Airways has a total of 760 pilots on its rolls.

Mr Goyal told the media that in the event of the pilots not returning to work, his company would do whatever is in line with the law of the land. “They are behaving like terrorists. They cannot hold the country, passengers and the airline hostage,” he said.

“We won’t tolerate such blackmail. The livelihood of more than 30,000 employees of Jet Airways is at stake,” the airline chief said.

“I am open to meeting and talking to the pilots. I will be more than happy to meet them. But they cannot harass the passengers ,” Mr Goyal said. He is also said to have met some pilots who are on leave in a bid to resolve the issue.