ABSTRACT

Each day is really becoming from tough to tougher for Mr. Ajay Jain who is getting notices from his wards’ school for not paying the school fee. He is not able to get his ailing mother admitted to the hospital in spite of the fact that she is on advanced stage of cancer. It is becoming very hard to run the house chores. Moreover, he has already got notices from the lender bank for not paying his monthly installments of the housing loan for last several months and now the final notice has been served about a week before to either pay the installments or bank will take over their home and evict them. He tried to borrow money from the colleagues but they are also on the same boat and struggling with their own problems. Borrowing from provident and pension fund couldn’t also materialize as several months’ dues to the fund have not been paid by the company he works for. It has become very frequent that he thinks to end his life but the innocent faces of his children and family members come in the way.

It is not the case that Mr. Ajay Jain was an unemployed youth. He worked for Jet Airways which was one of the best airlines till about a year back. Mr. Ajay never bothered about finances as he was well paid. He had all facilities that an employee can hope for. After joining Jet Airways about a decade back, Mr. Ajay bought a three bed-room apartment in a posh locality through a bank loan for about 1.5 crore rupees which he was regularly repaying. He got married and have got one son and a daughter whom he admitted to the best school in the area. He brought his mother from his native place after his father got expired and was taking her to the best oncologist for her cancer’ treatment.

Mr. Jain trouble started when his employer Jet Airways went to continuous losses and started defaulting on timely payment to employees and to the creditors. With each passing month, troubles started accumulating further and the employees were not paid for months together. Company has defaulted on paying the statuary dues towards employee medical insurance, provident and pension fund. With each day, one or the other facility that company was providing to employees since beginning were taken off. A glimpse of uncertain future was further evident when Jet Airways management announced to lay off about 1100 employees. Company argued that they were compelled to take this step to save the job of other 15000 employees. Mr. Jain stuck to his job in spite of the continuously boiling troubles hoping that things will improve sooner or later. As Mr. Jain was working in the technical staff who looked after maintenance of aircraft to check for their flight worthiness, he was hopeful that company will require his services for sure. However, the last nail to the coffin came when finally, in April 2019, the management has finally grounded off its fleet completely and the lenders forced the Chairman Mr. Goyal to step down. Lenders are trying hard now to find a buyer for the troubled airlines but without any success so far and then there are complex issues of loan repayment, shareholders’ concerns, employees future and so on.

It has now become completely dark for the remaining employees of Jet Airways as the revival of airlines seems very bleak at the moment. They were already facing much hardships as their salaries were not paid since January 2019 and there is no surely when their dues will be paid off and by whom. They had together tried legal measures also but got only reply from the CEO of Jet Airways that management has no answers to their concerns at the moment and management even can’t comment on what will happen to them during the sale process of the airlines. Jet employees irrespective of their ranks have approached Government of India also requesting it to intervene and for release of their dues so as to avoid their fate also become like Kingfisher employees whose pending salaries and dues were never paid by the airline.

Like other employees, Ajay is also looking for job opportunities available with other airlines but overall position in aviation sector is very tight. The other erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines has already been grounded and the remaining are also either running in loss or at least not profitable. Jet employees are facing hostilities from other airlines senior staff as they try to approach to their airlines for job. Ajay was told on the face by one of the airlines senior recruitment manager that it is kind of charity their airline is doing by hiring some of the Jet Airways staff. And this is not the case with Mr. Ajay but with almost all employees of Jet Airways who are seeking opportunities elsewhere. To rub the salt on their wound, most of the other airlines in India are also not working profitably. The biggest airline owned by the Government of India, Indian Airlines is also under huge debt and they are also on the verge of selling out or close their operations.

This case raises an important question why do top and mid-level employees waited so long and didn’t decide to leave the organization in time and look for other opportunities. They were certainly in know-how of how things were shaping up at Jet Airways and where it will all lead to. Response of this question as reported by media and validated also by discussion with different professionals by the author of this case is an unrealistic optimism of employees that things will improve or a better and stronger leadership will take over and issue will be resolved. But businesses are don’t done on optimism alone. What the employees didn’t take into account perhaps is the fact that Jet owed Eight thousand five crore rupees to its lenders and there was no easy recovery and the another brutal fact that employees pending salaries and other dues will be last priority for lenders whose foremost interest would be in recovering of their dues to the extent possible.

Questions:

1. If you would have been in Mr. Ajay Jain’s place, what would be your strategy to come out of this position?

2. Is it a right decision for employees to wait indefinitely for conditions to improve when writing seems on the wall?

3. What, according to you, can be the best possible solution to solve the Jet Airways crisis?

For full text of this article, Contact Mr. Jitender Sharma at jitender.sharma@jaipuria.ac.in

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