Mumbai: After affecting the largest lay off ever in Indian aviation history, Jet Airways staged a complete about turn reversing its decision to sack 1,900 employees. The decision was announced by chairman Naresh Goyal at a hastily convened press conference at the company's Mumbai headquarters at around 11.30 pm last night.
The carrier, India's largest by number of passengers carried, had sacked 850 employees on Monday and announced subsequently that it would lay off another 1,000-odd. It said the sacked employees were temporary staff.
At the press conference Goyal claimed that the decision to retrench staff was taken by the company's top management, who were responding to a difficult economic environment and that he himself wasn't aware of the details.
Describing himself as the father of the Jet family, Goyal said, "My conscience doesn't allow me to look at the mere economics only. I know that these are difficult times, but we will have to work together to find a way out of the crisis." Saying he would like to see the smile back on the faces of his staffers, Goyal and asked them to resume duties on Friday morning.
Given persistent market rumours that the Government had taken a dim view of the mass sackings affected by the airline, Goyal hastened to add that the decision to retract was his alone. "I didn't consult anybody before taking the decision. Only my wife knew about it, and she's here to lend moral support."
His contention flies in the face of civil aviation minister Praful Patel's assertion that indeed he had spoken to Goyal regarding the matter. Petroleum minister Murli Deora not only criticized the airline's decision coming as it did even as the widely celebrated festival of Diwali, traditionally regarded as a harbinger of good luck and cheer, was approaching but also labeled the carrier as a defaulter because of its failure to pay fuel bills.
A backlash was apparent in government and trade union circles with the media highlighting the issue of the need for tax payers to bail out private enterprise. The airline industry has lately been asking the government to consider a bailout package for itself.
Speaking at the press conference, an emotional Goyal said that though the airline industry was passing through rough times, the company would do whatever it took to make Jet Airways a profitable entity once again.