Knowing Naresh Goyal, he will sort this out,” a former executive at Jet Airways, now an investment banker, said of his former boss.
Goyal, 69, finds himself amidst his biggest battle yet—the fight to save his legacy and the airline that he has run for 25 years. Strong headwinds, not the kind that help airplanes take off smoothly from a runway, is setting Jet Airways on the course of a turbulent spiral. Last fortnight, this newspaper reported that the airline had asked pilots and engineers to take a 30% cut in salary. To convey the precariousness of the situation, a senior executive gave a timeline of 60 days to executives.
The airline later said the timeline conveyed an exaggerated sense of urgency.
But no one is contesting that the airline is negotiating a tight financial corner. The cost of servicing its Rs 8,100 crore debt is high. Fuel prices are soaring and so are wage bills in a competitive market. The competition from lowcost airlines and others also mean Jet’s ability to hold on to desirable levels of pricing has eroded. In short, there are too many players in the Indian skies, who have the wherewithal to stay for the long haul. At stake is an airline that Goyal built from the ground up and has kept afloat for 25 years, in a sub-continent that has seen many private airlines crash land.
19/08/18 Satish John/Economic Times