Hundreds of Jet Airways employees held a protest in Mumbai after hearing about job cuts, while many politicians demanded an investigation.

"The management will have to understand sometimes in a family there are disagreements, but the father of the family decides," Goyal told a news conference in Mumbai, adding that he could not bear to "see tears in their eyes".

Goyal also stressed that the decision had not been the result of political pressure or meetings with any concerned parties.

The Indian aviation industry, which had grown at an average annual pace of more than 25 per cent in the past few years in a booming economy, is forecast to post combined losses of nearly $2bn in the year to March 2009.