Jet Airways Standoff – Who is Right & Who is wrong ?


The standoff has entered into its 4th day. The main sufferers of this strike are passengers and no else. Think about the countless important business meetings, important occasions etc that have got postponed / cancelled due to cancellations of these Jet Airways Flights !

But what exactly is the issue? Why did Pilots go on strike? Why did Jet remove those Pilots?

Jet Airways Standoff

(Note: My comments are based on what I have read & heard – I do not know if actual reality is different)

Simply put, Jet Airways was against Pilots creating a trade Union (probably the outcome of what had happened few months back – sacking of few hundred employees).
To show their dissent, Jet Airways, sacked nearly 10 pilots who were instrumental in creating this Union.

This did not go down well with other Pilots and till now 432 pilots have gone on sick leave, with 360 not reporting for work on the first day. Jet Airways has close to 760 pilots on its rolls.

With more than half of Pilots absent, the flights had to be cancelled and passengers were left stranded !

Jet Airways hasn’t taken this lightly and have threatened to take stern action against these Pilots. Mr. Narendra Goyal, head of Jet Airways, has even gone ahead and named these pilots terrorists.

He said:

“They are behaving like terrorists. They cannot hold the country, passengers and the airline hostage. We won’t tolerate such blackmail. The livelihood of more than 30,000 employees of Jet Airways is at stake, I am open to meeting and talking to the pilots. I will be more than happy to meet them. But they cannot harass the passengers”

Here is what I think:

Jet Airways Pilots have not done anything illegal in forming a trade Union. They did not make any demands nor were they blaming Jet Airways for anything. They were simply forming a Union, which is probably within their Legal and Constitutional rights.

I dont think it was right on Jet Airways part to take such a stern action against these Pilots.

I really want to know what our readers think? Is Jet Airways right in sacking them or have Pilots erred by going on mass leave?

  1. […] in 2001 and have continued till today. SARS, Recession, Fuel prices, Terrorism, Human Capital, Strikes – You name the issue and it’s affected the airline industry. And Jet hasn’t escaped it. But […]

  2. TIP Guy says

    Hi Arun,

    One needs two hands to clap, and hence I believe both the management and pilots were responsible. Unfortunately, this is one more episode where common citizen paid the price, while two warring parties went back like nothing happened.

    If management fired pilots for forming illegal union, pilots association should have knocked doors of legal system. Instead they went on to use common citizen at its weapon against management. Pilots association even violated the court order, now our so called association/union/political leaders don’t even respect the court order.

    Common man paid money for a service they did not get, any restitution for them? There is never an accountability, its always the case where let common man suffer.

    I am sure Jet’s profitability will be dinged. But I would like to see pilots pay also getting dinged for ignoring court order. They need to pay for it, otherwise it will happen again.

    Best Wishes,

  3. Vishwa says

    Hi i would like 2 know the reason for the pilots strike , and wat are the steps the management has took . Who is right and who is wrong ….?

  4. Yash says

    Unions are bad no doubt in that but if Jet didn’t want a union then they should have handled things with care. It should have been a part of pilots’ work contracts. And if a union was being created, Jet should have taken some advice from Walmart, the most famous company to have successfully avoided unions amongst its employees!

    And this strike is not just affecting revenues of Jet. It is actually affecting economy of the country. Imagine how many important business meetings and numerous other activities might have been postponed/canceled because of this strike.

  5. kent says

    The pilots are completely at fault here. These guys are well educated and perhaps one of the highest paid and well taken care of guys, who resort to such kind of blackmail rather than reason and law. Jet fired 10 pilots. Not 400. If they had a problem they should have gone to the court to fight for their right for a union. Why hold thousands of innocent passengers to ransom by using their plight as a pressure tactic against the management? thanks to Jet Airways, today we have a totally different flying experience in India, than what we had with only Indian airlines in the country. Unions and bad governance led to complacency in these national carriers, and these guys want to take the country back to that situation, I think.

  6. kareem says

    I can’t simply say pilots are wrong neither right as they jumped into strike without any prior notice is illegal that resulted more pilorts sacked. Pilots must be patient and sit and talk with managment and try to pacifiy and reinstate those sacked pilots rather intensifying the loss over money and time and many lives too at danger.hence Pilots must immediatly resume without conditions as JET AIRWAYS HAS EARNED GOOD REPUTATION AROUND THE WORLD WITH ITS POLICY AND WE TOO CONFIDENT THAT THEY COULD NOT DO ANY HARM TO PILOTS TOO.

  7. Truth Teller says

    Pilots are wrong in this case. They should not have started the union rather they should have gone to court for NOT allowing them to START one (if it is allowed under the law). Jet Airways should (WILL) give an ultimatum to fire all the ‘sick’ pilots if they don’t join duty within 24 hours. Already has High Court has found the pilots “cONTEMPT” of court for NOT obeying their orders.

  8. anilkumar ganapathy says

    employer has to see both sides of the coin the expenditure and income the employer has to look about the cost he is going to pay for the decision he is going to take secondly is it worth the cost which the decision is going to cost and so on
    mr n goal is not good enough to forcast the future because his decision in going ahead with the sacking of the pilot has cost too much for the passenger the airline emplyee the goodwill reputation which the airline has got till yesterday i feel that it is high time he is removed instead of spoiling the whole airline and the employee and the customers goodwill

  9. pooja says

    I am Pooja.
    I am pursuing my MBA with HR.
    My campus placements are very near,
    So i need all of your help for the current hot topics for the preparation of my interview.
    please tell me in detail about the Jet Airways Issue.

  10. Ashley Alfred says

    It can be anybody’s fault. Either Jet airways or the pilots or both of them. But the primary concern here is of the passengers. The passengers, the consumers are the ones who are being deprived of their rights and harassed. This shouls end soon. The Ministry should intervene and sought this out as soon as possible.

  11. Mithun John Jacob says

    But, what about the fate of passengers who had booked the tickets long ago ?

    Before striking they should’ve given an notice to the general public; two/three months ago…

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Mithun that is just not possible…how could they give 2-3 months notice for strike…Pilots were removed and they had to take action immediately…
      See I am not defending any side, I am just trying to very objective here…

  12. Philip says

    you cant stop the pilots from forming an union. our constitution gives them the right to. unless of course their terms of employment said that they cant. then the pilots are breaking their employment terms and conditions.

    anyway, Naresh Goyal is not a great man manager. he is known to have a problem with everyone. it must be to do with the fact that he likes to micro-manage.

  13. Anoop says

    Based on the reported facts, my comments follows.
    Pilots are right from their side about their issue. But they use passengers to mould the management to their ideas. They didn’t think about the shockwaves that will make after their decision.
    Jet airways also right about their stand against piolts about their sudden decision to go out of duty. But they are also using 1000s of passengers to solve the issue.
    Both employees and the management are thinking emotionally, not with career morality and not with business ethics. Morally Jet airways is supposed to give compensation to each passenger, and the employees should contribute a share on it.
    The Government has to do fast before this scenario diminish the confident, powerful image of India infront of the world.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Anoop, yes, passengers responsibilities lies on Jet Airways and not the Pilots. Jet Airways, actually un-ethically discarded those 10 Pilots. There was nothing that other Pilots could do about it.

      Jet Airways thought that they will nip the bud right at the start before the Union takes bigger proportions, but the decision to remove these Pilots seemed to have boomeranged back on them…

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