Jet Airways cancels overseas flights
Debt-laden Jet Airways has suspended its international operations till Friday morning as its fleet has been reduced to 14 aircraft and the airline is facing a severe funds crunch.
The airline is also cancelling more domestic flights, raising doubts about its survival over the next few days even as the stake sale process continues. The airline’s board met in Mumbai on thursday and discussed “operational” issues.
The bid deadline for the stake sale ends on Friday, April 12, and so far five players, including Etihad, have expressed interest.
Etihad, which holds a 24 per cent stake, is understood to have thrown its hat into the ring on Thursday. The Abu-Dhabi based airline is looking to increase its stake to 49 per cent. However, when contacted, a spokesperson of the carrier said it does not comment on speculation.
It is also learnt that Jet founder Naresh Goyal may submit an EoI jointly with another partner. A regulatory filing says Goyal has pledged 26 per cent stake in the ailing airline as security for loans from Punjab National Bank.
All eyes are also on Air Canada, which may bid. The other four players to have placed bids are National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Indigo Partners, a consortium of Redcliffe Capital and Think Equity and TPG Capital.
The Jet Airways stock was again clobbered on the bourses, closing 1.14 per cent lower at Rs 260.40 on the BSE on Thursday.
Sources said the airline had informed the DGCA it was suspending its global operations till Friday morning as its fleet strength had reduced and it had not received the funds from banks as part of a rescue plan prepared by lenders led by the SBI.
A spokesperson of the carrier told The Telegraph that as a pro-active measure, it has suspended “the international long-haul West bound ex-India flights from tonight till tomorrow morning”. She added its inbound flights have not been affected. Till recently, the airline operated flights, including Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s, 737-800 and ATRs, to various destinations such as London, Toronto, Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris and Bangkok.
The company also said in a regulatory filing that an additional 10 aircraft have been grounded because of the non-payment of dues to lessors. The groundings have affected its services to and from the East and Northeast. The airline said its Mumbai-Calcutta, Calcutta-Guwahati and Dehradun-Guwahati flights via Calcutta stand cancelled for Friday.
Jet did not mention in its statement whether it was in discussions with the lessors on the present situation. Earlier, statements by the airline had specifically pointed to the airline’s active engagement with the lessors to improve the situation.
Meanwhile, PTI quoting aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said the ministry may review Jet’s eligibility to continue its international operations after it gets a report from the regulator.