Jet Airways pays December salary partially, pilots unhappy

Jet Airways on Saturday cleared the pending salaries for December, but pilots maintain they would stop flying from April 1 if full dues are not settled. The pilots’ union has called for a meeting on Sunday to decide further steps.

The airline is yet to pay full salaries for January and February to its pilots, engineers and senior management. So far, only 12.5 per cent of December salary was paid and on Saturday the airline credited the remaining 87.5 per cent for the month.

“The board of directors and the management team are working as fast as possible to implement the resolution plan agreed with the consortium of Indian lenders to quickly restore the much-needed stability to our operations and build a sustainable future for the airline,’’ chief executive officer Vinay Dube said in an email to staff. Stating that these are complex processes and that it has taken longer than expected, Dube wrote, “We are only able to remit your remaining salary for December 2018”.

Founder Naresh Goyal stepped down as chairman of Jet Airways on March 25 as lenders agreed to provide Rs 1,500 crore in emergency funding as part of a resolution plan. His wife, Anita, too, resigned as director on the Jet board.

“We realise that this remittance does not lift the financial hardship that each of you are facing and we do not take your sacrifices for granted. We continue to work on additional funding on an urgent basis and shall advise you about the release of the remaining salary arrears as the funds come in,” Dube has told the Jet staff in his latest email communication.

The pilots’ union has made it clear that the partial payout is not acceptable. “There will be no flying unless the company pays us substantial salaries and provides a road map,” the National Aviators Guild, the pilots’ union, said in a message to its members.

ALSO READ | Over 1,000 Jet Airways pilots to go ahead with no flying call from April 1

Just a day ago, around 200 pilots had individually written to the airline CEO, threatening to go on leave of absence and warning of legal action for non-payment of dues. Engineers too have threatened to stop work if salaries are not paid.

Cash-strapped Jet Airways has grounded many planes and also defaulted on repayment of debt, including ECBs.

Lenders’ consortium is preparing for an open auction for Jet, which has a debt of around Rs 8,500 crore. The expression of interest for the auction is likely by April 9 and final bids are expected by end of May. Goyal, whose stake has been halved from 51 to 25.5 per cent is learnt to be scouting for strategic partners for the airline he had founded more than 25 years ago. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which owned 24 per cent in Jet and now is left with 12 per cent, is expected to decide at a board meeting on Sunday, whether it wants to exit the airline completely or not.




5 Amazing Indian Road Trips

Road trips are an amazing experience because they involve the best of both the worlds – the journey and the destination. The joy of steering the wheel which is totally under your control, like your life, while your best buddies are playing through that perfect playlist of yours is what makes memories in your life.

The surprises that the journey has to offer at every turn is something to live for while waiting for the road to give you answers to your unanswered questions. The wind smashing onto your face when you peek out of the window is what will rejuvenate you after a long drive along the flawless road.

The best destinations in Indiawhich can be reached by treading on the best roads. Now that both the journey and the destination are the best, you’re in for a treat of a lifetime if you decide to set foot on any of the roads mentioned below!

  • Manali – Leh
manali-to-leh

Photo by Silver Blue, CC BY 2.0

One of the most known routes for road trips among bike lovers, the Manali-Leh highway spans about 500 kilometres and is about 4 kilometres over the sea level. The beauty of the surroundings can never be captured in words as words fall short to describe the splendour of the snow-clad mountains and the waviness of the roads. The route has been captured in many movies, including the song “Yeh ishqhai” from Jab we Met, assuring you that the location is definitely picturesque. What could be a better route for a journey than this one which will keep you busy and amazed for two days?!

  • Shimla – Manali via Spiti
spiti-valley

Photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Shimla to Manali route viaSpiti and Lahaul valley is the lesser travelled routes, but well known among the community that loves taking to the roads. The journey will put you on some of the most treacherous highways, roads and bridges that you will ever come across. Being a long and tiring journey through the hills, the route has some amazing locations at which you could stay the night. Nako, Sangla, Kalpa and the Chandratal are some must visit destinations along this route.

  • Mumbai – Goa

Because DilChahta Hai! The Mumbai-Goa route is just as famous as the destination, Goa, thanks to the movie. Ever since the release, people have gone crazy about the entire experience that the road trip brings. The National Highway 17 is extremely pleasant to drive on and is also developed enough to fill your stomach while you refill your car’s stomach! The numerous food joints along the way will make you realize your love for food and cherish the different tastes each recipe brings with it. Being so close to Mumbai, this should be a definite road trip for your vacation in Goa!

  • Guwahati – Tawang

Dirang valley, Photo by Itrajib, CC BY-SA 4.0

The two definite attractions in the Northeast connected by a road as challenging as the destinations, that’s precisely the Guwahati-Tawang road! Though 520 kilometres apart and spanned over varying terrain, the road trip is relaxing due to the splendid views of the scenery yet challengingto drive because of the mountains. Once in Tawang, it’s all about the 3Ms, the monks, the mountains and the morning prayers which will leave you as fresh and pure as you can imagine. So enjoy the Ms while you drive your Mercedes in the Morning while eating M&Ms!!

  • Ahmedabad – Kutch
ahemadabad-to-kutch

Photo by NagarjunKandukuru, CC BY 2.0

The best plan for a short weekend holiday in the state of Gujarat is the road trip from Ahmedabad to Rann of Kutch. With a driving distance of 400 kilometres, the journey pleasantly hits you as you enter the infinite expanse of the white salt desert or as your pass through the thick forests that Gujarat is known for. The rich colours of the inhabitants of Kutch complements the single colour of the background in which they live, creating a beautiful contrast for the viewer to enjoy. Wash your car, fill up the gas tank and hit the pedal. The destination is clutch, but the journey is accelerated!

Road trips are the best experiences of a life time because of the conversations you have sitting inside the metal body of your vehicle are what you will remember when you recollect memories about the trip. The destination might be mesmerizing, but nothing beats the combined beauty of friends, a vehicle, your favourite songs and a beautiful road to drive on!

About the Author

Rohit is an extensive traveller who explores a variety of places. He puts forth his travel journeys so as to enlighten the people who share an interest in his kind of journeys. Read more about his blogs at transindiatravels.com.




Google, GM launch group focused on expanding renewable energy purchasing

Google, General Motors and other big-name companies announced a new venture on Thursday that aims to make it easier for businesses to get their hands on clean energy.

Driven by consumer calls for renewable energy use as the price of wind and solar continues to drop, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to go green. A new trade association assembled by industry giants including Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and Disney, hopes to make that goal easy to achieve.

The group, called the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), aims to work toward a zero-carbon future, where every organization has the ability to offset as much of their energy use as it desires from renewable sources.

With over 200 members, REBA is comprised of the largest group of clean energy buyers in the United States. By helping other businesses become better positioned to purchase renewable energy, board members say they hope to help unlock the marketplace and, eventually, transition to a completely zero-carbon energy future.

“At a very fundamental level our theory of change is that we can leverage the markets and buyers have a unique role in the markets to drive the renewable energy future,” said Miranda Ballentine, REBA CEO.

The idea for the trade association started five years ago, when a dozen company heads in a meeting began discussing obstacles to obtaining often limited renewable energy options in the marketplace.

“How do we really scale up renewables across a diverse sector? How do we think about scaling this up beyond just a few companies that have done on site procurement?,” Rob Threlkeld, global manager for renewable energy at General Motors, said of the meeting.

“It really morphed out of planting a seed in terms of, ‘How to do we think about this in a much more diverse manner? How is technology really adapting to all of that?’ ”

It turned out that multiple companies had the same issues finding renewable energy sources to meet their goals.

“We have a commitment to match 100 percent of our energy purchases with renewable energy. We’re the world’s largest non-utility buyer of renewable energy,” said Michael Terrell, head of energy market development at Google.

“But it was incredibly challenging to do that and we faced lots of challenges trying to buy energy for our business and found others do too. The goal was to come together in a collaborative effort and really look for ways to break down barriers and make access for renewable energy ubiquitous for everybody.”

Threlkeld said company heads also realized they could play a role in driving the market toward creating more clean energy sources.

“The timing is really now to scale it to the next level,” Threlkeld said. “The utility sector and transportation sector are changing more in the next few years than you saw in the past 100 years. I think a lot of companies are aligning to similar thoughts. Cost and technology are coming to the point where it’s the right thing to do on the business perspective and sustainably as well.”

REBA aims to drive the generation of 60 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025 for its buyers. The association is also looking to scale up, with more corporate energy buyers looking to use renewable energy.

The ideas of the trade association are largely driven by science linking greenhouse gas emissions to climate change. The businesses within the company have acknowledged that industry is one of the biggest polluters.

A report released earlier this week from Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan think tank, found that solar and wind power are on track to overtake coal as cost-effective energy sources. According to the analysis, economics alone played the biggest role in driving U.S. consumer energy use towards renewable sources, driving down the cost of wind and solar.

As it stands, local wind and solar could replace nearly 74 percent of the U.S. coal fleet today and still save customers money, the report found.

The findings are in line with what REBA founders say they’ve encountered themselves when opting to buy renewable energy for their companies.

As renewable energy becomes more affordable, REBA founders say they think more businesses will continue to opt to choose clean energy over fossil fuels.

“In many markets you can’t just call up your energy provider and say, ‘Give me the clean energy solution.’ It’s not how the system works. So we really have to find ways to change that,” said Terrell.

“Cost is not really the issue anymore. It’s really access.”




Gov. Newsom promised courage in scrapping fossil fuels. Will he keep his pledge?

Calling it “the beginning of the end of natural gas” in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti last month announced that he was scrapping plans to rebuild three aging gas power plants on the Southern California coast. He vowed to shut down the gas units and set his city – the second largest in the country – on a path to 100 percent renewable energy.

Garcetti’s decisive action makes him a leader in the fight against climate change, not just in California, but across the country. It takes political courage to refrain from spending taxpayer dollars on outdated fossil fuel technology, especially given the colossal power of Big Oil and Gas money in California politics.

His bold action provides a road map for how Gov. Gavin Newsom should address climate change over the next four years. As a candidate, Newsom pledged to “on day one … issue a directive putting California on a clear path to 100 percent renewable energy.”

Yet, 76 days after taking office, Newsom has yet to act. If he seeks to truly meet the challenge and scope of the climate crisis, he must keep his pledge. With the stroke of his executive pen, Gov. Newsom can take strong steps to protect Californians from the worsening local effects of global climate chaos, which include fires, floods, drought and air so toxic kids can’t even play outside on some days.

First, Gov. Newsom can make good on his pledge to shut down the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility, which is the site of the worst gas blowout in U.S. history.

“If California can accomplish that monumental lift [to retire California’s last nuclear power plant] within eight-years, I think we can be more ambitious at Aliso Canyon and I will press for quicker resolution because I know we can do much better for the community while protecting ratepayers, the environment, and union jobs,” Newsom said during his gubernatorial campaign.

More than three years after the Aliso blowout, San Fernando Valley neighbors are still sick with rashes, weakness, nausea, headaches and other symptoms attributed to ongoing leaks at the gas field.

Now that Mayor Garcetti has vowed to replace L.A. gas plants with renewable energy and agrees that Aliso Canyon must be shut down, there is no excuse to continue to store gas at the facility. Gov. Newsom should order regulators to shut it down immediately.

On the campaign trail, Gov. Newsom also expressed opposition to “fracking and other unsafe oil operations.” Fracking, along with other forms of extreme extraction, like cyclic steam injection or acidizing, sends a high-pressure, toxic chemical soup underground, putting California’s precious aquifers at risk. Families living near this dangerous drilling have been sounding the alarm for years because they are concerned that their water is being contaminated by carcinogens like benzene.

NagyAlex_HiRes.jpg

These frontline families urgently need courageous action from the governor. He can start by taking sensible action to protect families from the health dangers of conventional drilling. This means instituting a 2,500-foot buffer zone between oil drilling operations and sensitive areas like homes and schools. Such action would be life-changing for thousands of Angelenos who live just a few hundred feet – or less – from active oil wells.

Alexandra Nagy

Statewide, there are nearly 8,500 active oil wells within 2,500 feet of sensitive sites like homes, schools and hospitals. A safety buffer zone is a good first step the governor can take on the way to banning harmful practices like fracking and phasing out all drilling.

Finally, Gov. Newsom can show true climate leadership by keeping his promise and announcing a plan to move California off fossil fuels. If he set his sights on 2030 as a deadline, he would be in line with scientific consensus and national calls for a Green New Deal.

Gov. Newsom’s plan should ensure that renewable energy is truly clean, which means solar, wind, geothermal and existing hydroelectric. His plan must not include dangerous nuclear power or dirty energy sources like biogas and biomass. It must also include a fair and just transition for workers and affected communities. This includes the development of renewable energy in low-income communities, as well as programs to transition the state’s existing fossil fuel workforce and members of underserved communities to good green jobs.

Gov. Newsom has all the authority he needs to take these urgent steps now. If L.A. can move off fossil fuels onto renewable energy, all of California can follow. The future of our state – and our world – demands big vision and bigger courage.

Alexandra Nagy is a Los Angeles-based Senior Organizer at Food & Water Watch




Feds boast that nuclear energy is the ‘real new green deal’

Vogtle nuclear power plant, Waynesboro, Georgia.

Georgia Power


At a speech to nuclear power plant employees in Georgia, where the two new reactors are being built, Perry highlighted the administration’s broader goals of “making America great again,” opening his address by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, look around you. This is the real new green deal.”


The financial boost for the pair of reactors being built at the Vogtle power station near Augusta, Georgia is but a drop in the bucket, considering the cost overruns already incurred by the owners. The project was originally approved in 2012, with a price tag of $14 billion.

Today, with overruns, the price is double that amount and growing. The new guaranteed $3.7 billion in financing comes on top of another $8.3 billion in loan guarantees from the Energy Department under Barack Obama. Completion is now set for sometime in 2022.

Nuclear becomes part of clean energyCongressional members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey introduced their “Green New Deal” in February that calls for a rapid shift to carbon-free energy. The plan calls for drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions across the economy, from transportation and agriculture to building efficiency upgrades and energy generation.

“We’ve drafted it in a way which can get the support of progressives and moderates inside of our caucus,” Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), one of the lead sponsors of the Green New Deal resolution, told reporters last month.

But, Forbes notes that at first, nuclear power plants were left out of the plan. The deal actually called for phasing out all nuclear power plants and included a fact sheet that also killed any ideas of building new ones.

The plan immediately ran into a roadblock because nuclear, a clean form of energy, was left out. So, a section of the new green deal was rewritten that while making no mention of nuclear power, does include it as a source of clean energy. This is why Perry made a reference to the new green deal on Friday.

Now, the text of the plan includes the goal of “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources, including— (i) by dramatically expanding and upgrading renewable power sources; and (ii) by deploying new capacity.”

If the new green deal continues to gain traction, we will have to have serious discussions on how we go about meeting the goals set force in the plan while insuring that our electricity generation needs are met. Clean energy – carbon emissions-free – does not include fossil fuels or natural gas. The proposed “new Green Deal” will be voted on today.




Vinod Tawde slams Sharad Pawar over remarks against BJP, Modi government

Mumbai: Maharashtra minister and BJP leader Vinod Tawde Monday said the Congress is in a shambles in the state and also hit out at NCP chief Sharad Pawar over his statements against the party and the Modi government. He said instead of pointing fingers at the BJP, Pawar should ask the Congress why its government did not act in the aftermath of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

“The state Congress is in a shambles. The party is pressing its leaders to contest the Lok Sabha election, but many of them are reluctant,” he said while talking to reporters here. Tawde slammed Pawar over his statements against the BJP and the Modi government. Pawar, a former defence minister, had Sunday said the BJP was trying to seek political gains from jawans’ sacrifices.

The former Union minister had also sought to know if IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman can be brought back from Pakistan, then why can’t Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is facing espionage charges in the neighbouring country.

Taking a swipe at Modi, Pawar had said if the PM possessed a “56 inch chest”, he should bring back Jadhav, a former Navy officer jailed in Pakistan. Hitting back at Pawar, Tawde said, “It was him who doubted the authenticity of the (surgical) strike carried out by our jawans.

“He should know that Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death but it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who took the case to the International Court of Justice and stopped the Pakistani government from hanging Jadhav.” The BJP leader sought to know why the Congress-led UPA government, of which Pawar was a prominent member, did not act against Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

“Defence officials had sought permission from the UPA government to carry out surgical strike post 26/11 but Dr Manmohan Singh’s government chose not to act.”Pawar should ask his political ally (Congress) about it instead of pointing fingers at us,” he said.