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JetLite employees to move NCLT this week

The RP overseeing the Jet Airways insolvency had refused to accept claims of JetLite employees.

July 22, 2019 / 02:10 PM IST
 
 
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Employees of JetLite, the low cost unit of Jet Airways, may move the National Company Law Tribunal on July 23 after their claims were turned down by the resolution professional overseeing the insolvency process.

On July 19, the RP, Ashish Chhawchharia, had published details of claims he had received. Clarifying, he had added:

"The CIRP process of only Jet Airways (India) Limited has been initiated, the wholly-owned subsidiaries being a separate legal entity is outside the purview of the process and hence only the claims pertaining to Jet Airways (India) Limited shall be considered," the RP had said.

That has put to question the salary arrears that employees of JetLite have. Before Jet suspended operations in April, JetLite had about 2,000 employees. Now a little less than half remain.

The airline has also not paid its employees since March. Arrears of pilots are higher.

"There shouldn't be any confusion. We draw salary from the same company. We are on the payroll of Jet Airways, and base salary and other benefits are similar. The finance department is the same," said Anil Shukla, a senior pilot with JetLite.

Lawyer Shekhar Nanvaty will be representing the employees. "According to information we have collated, the claims amount to Rs 50 crore," said Shukla.

Unusual structure

The structure of JetLite has added to the confusion.

JetLite was formerly Air Sahara, which was bought by Jet in 2007. Consequently, it operated as a budget carrier. JetLite remained a separate entity, and its brand was Jet Konnect. It was a part of the Jet Airways "group".

But much of its infrastructure, including the fleet, was merged with Jet Airways. "Air Sahara originally had 29 aircraft. They took away all of the fleet," said an executive.

Shukla added that JetLite doesn't have a bank account, and all salary payments came from Jet. If the ongoing insolvency process doesn't include their claims, JetLite employees have few options remaining.

After the RP refused to take their claims, JetLite employees sent a notice to the Board of the low cost carrier. But having received no reply for 10 days, they will now move the NCLT, through Nanavaty on July 23.

The JetLite Board includes Naresh Goyal, Gaurang Shetty and Archana Capoor. Shetty was also on the board of Jet Airways, and had quit in May. Goyal was also forced out of the airline.

Meanwhile, the RP has called for expression of interest from interested applicants by August 3.
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
first published: Jul 22, 2019 02:03 pm