MUMBAI: Bhoja Poojari has handled baggage for Jet Airways since it began flying nearly 26 years ago. Now, like many other Jet employees, he fears for the future as the debt-laden airline descends into crisis.
“If this continues, I do not know what to do,” said the 53-year-old father of two, who has not been paid in nearly two months and may be forced to sell his house.
“I feel like my hands are tied and I can’t sleep at night,” Mr Poojari told Reuters. “I haven’t told my children anything. They are very young, but they know something is wrong.”
Thousands of employees have been stung by the rapid unravelling of Jet Airways, which, saddled with more than $1.2 billion in bank debt, grounded all its planes on Wednesday after lenders rejected a plea for emergency funds.
The shutdown has deepened the crisis as dues to lessors, staff and suppliers pile up and lenders scramble to find a buyer for what was once India’s largest private airline.
Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube told employees on Wednesday that the sale would take time and could throw up more challenges, but he was confident the airline would fly again.
Failure would threaten more than 16,000 staff jobs and thousands more tied to the airline, which at its peak operated over 120 planes and more than 600 daily flights.