“Jet Airways lays off 800 staff”. So read the headlines in India’s newspapers on Wednesday of last week. Just 24 hours later they had changed to “Jet Airways reinstates 800 staff”.
During the intervening period a sense of popular outrage against the airline bosses gripped the nation, with hundreds of sacked workers joining protests in Mumbai.
The government was forced to intervene, and the company to backtrack and apologise.
Airline boss Naresh Goyal said he “could not bear to see tears in the eyes” of his former employees.
Jet Airways – along with Kingfisher, its former rival but now partner – had been part India’s economic “success story” as the market for internal flights for the wealthy boomed.
Now with the collapse of the Indian stocks and shares, that market seems to be shrinking and bosses had wanted to slash their costs.
The mood of the public is that workers should not pay for a crisis and the government fears that a rebellion in the airline industry might quickly spread elsewhere.