The suspension of operations by Jet Airways from 18 April, 2019 has badly affected nearly 22,000 workers and lakhs of passengers. Workers have not been paid salaries since January. Other airlines are raking in fabulous profits, due to the shortage of flights created by the closure of Jet Airways, by increasing their fares 3 to 4 times. The government has made no move to protect the interests of workers or of the airline passengers.
Jet Airways owes eleven banks, including nine Indian banks, about Rs 11,000 crore. The largest amount of debt was given by the State Bank of India, which amounted to 27% of the total loans. Jet has also not paid lease rent for airplanes and its dues to oil companies for fuel supplied.
Subsequent reports have revealed that the banks were aware of the problems with Jet Airways but did not take timely action. The banks had agreed to provide Rs 1500 crore to Jet Airways so that it could continue to run provided Goyal and family gave up the directorship of the Company. While Goyal and family resigned on 25 March, 2019, the Banks did not provide the money, leading to the closure of operations. Reports suggest that the inaction of the banks may lead to their writing off of thousands of crores of rupees of people’s money.
The banks have now invited bids for the sale of Jet Airways. It is reported that capitalists interested in buying Jet want the banks to write off 80 percent of loans to make it attractive for them to buy it.
All this has happened with the full knowledge and connivance of the government. Both the BJP- and Congress-led governments had given undue favours to Goyal from time to time. The civil aviation policy was changed and the rules were bent to favour him. In 2001, Arun Shourie, then a minister in the NDA government, had revealed details of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, which raised serious questions about Goyal’s source of funds and his dangerous links to the underworld. The report was buried with the active support of key BJP leaders. Every successive government thereafter did nothing about it. Goyal’s company, Tail Winds, which owns the shares of Jet, is based in a well-known tax-haven country, the Isle of Man. Goyal himself is a non-resident Indian and lives in England.
The case of Jet Airways and Goyal once more brings to the fore what numerous such cases in the past have shown, i.e. that in their drive for greater profits, the big capitalists have been given a free hand by the government, whether led by the Congress or the BJP, to loot the wealth of the people and get away scot-free.
Workers of Jet fear that what happened to the workers of Mallaya’s Kingfisher in 2012 could happen to them. There is no clarity when the new buyer will get finalised, if at all, or the company will go through the bankruptcy process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
The central government through its Ministry of Civil Aviation is in charge of regulating all aspects of airline transport in the country. The central government must be condemned for its failure to protect jobs of the workers and to protect passengers from being fleeced by other airlines.
The Indian state defends the interests of the big monopoly capitalists and fully facilitates their super-exploitation of the working class as well as their rapacious loot of the wealth and resources of our people. No matter which government comes to power, it works for these monopoly capitalists.
The workers of Jet Airways as well as passengers being fleeced by other airlines have to direct their anger at the Indian state, which is responsible for the hardship faced by them and the colossal robbery of the wealth of our people.