Troubled private Indian carrier Jet Airways blamed “operational reasons” for flight disruption as a growing number of aircraft were grounded.

The number of aircraft taken out of service is reported to have grown to at least 48 due to defaults on lease payments.

The country’s National Aviators Guild warned the Jet Airways management that members would stop flying for the airline from April 1 if their salaries were not paid, the BBC reported.

The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it had “reviewed the performance of Jet Airways on operational, airworthiness and passenger facilitation” yesterday.

“Current availability of aircraft in the fleet for operation is 41 and accordingly scheduled for 603 domestic flights and 382 international flights has been drawn,” the regulator said.

“However, it is a dynamic situation and there may be further attrition in coming weeks.”

India’s aviation minister Suresh Prabhu ordered officials to continuously monitor the situation at Jet Airways, which is reported to have debts of more than $1 billion.

DGCA said it was ensuring that all aircraft in the fleet whether in operation or on ground are maintained in accordance with approved maintenance programmes.

The airline was also directed to ensure that no pilots or cabin crew be rostered on duty  “who had reported stress of any nature”.

Company secretary Kuldeep Sharma said in a letter to the National Stock Exchange of India yesterday: “An additional six aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements.”

He said the airline was trying to “improve its liquidity”.

Jet Airways said: “Due to operational reasons, our flight schedules have been impacted.

“We truly regret the inconvenience and would like to assure you that our customer support teams are working 24×7 to ensure that our guests are re-accommodated or provided with a full refund.

“The company is also making all efforts to minimise disruption to its network due to the above and is proactively informing and re-accommodating its affected guests.

“The company also continues to provide required and periodic updates to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in this regard.”

Jet Airways’ international routes include a Manchester-Mumbai service launched in November.

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