Jet Airways sales hub sold to realty group
The Jet Airways office on Park Street, from where the defunct airline had conducted its sales operations in the city for more than 20 years, has been sold to a real estate group, sources said.
The 4,000sq ft office space at Stephen Court (18D Stephen Court), which includes a mezzanine floor, is now owned by Reliable Group, a real estate investment and construction company.
Employees of Jet Airways, which is saddled with a debt of about Rs 10,000 crore and had stopped flying on April 17, were asked to hand over the possession to Reliable Group about a couple of months back, the sources said.
“The property changed hands a month back but talks for sale were on for several months,” a source said.
The office space was owned by Jetair Pvt Ltd, a travel agency founded by Naresh Goyal in 1974, when it was the hub of Jet Airways’ sales operations in the city.
Goyal is former chairman of Jet Airways and still holds 51 per cent stake in the airline, according to the latest BSE data released in March 2019.
“We have bought the property from Jetair Pvt Ltd. We are planning to give it to a franchise for running a restaurant. If it doesn’t work out, we might give it out on rent,” said Dipak Jhunjhunwala, one of the directors of Reliable Group.
One prospective tenant who had approached the group said they were expecting a rent of Rs 10 lakh a month. Jhunjhunwala refused to comment on the amount.
Sources said the Jet Airways employees in the Stephen Court office had in May received a written communication from Jetair Pvt Ltd, asking them to vacate the office.
“We vacated the office on May 16 and handed over the keys to Jetair officials. Since Jetair was the owner of the office, we had to follow their instructions,” said a former employee who had worked for about 10 years at the Park Street address.
No official response was available from the airline.
Jet Airways, which was granted the status of “scheduled airline” (as opposed to chartered airline) in January 1995, had been operating from the office since the late 1990s.
In 2016, the airline had 47 flights out of Calcutta.
Jetair, which was the general sales agent for several international airlines, operated from the office till the late 1990s before making way for Jet Airways.
“We would have more than 100 people visiting the office every day. They would come to book tickets, change itinerary or make queries. Because of the location, people would find it easy to drop by,” said a former employee.
Businessman Sanjay Sawhaney said he had owned 1,000sq ft of the property — 900sq ft of which was on the mezzanine floor — along with Jetair Pvt Ltd.
“I used to run a fast-food store named Super Duper.
In the mid-1990s, Jetair bought my portion,” Sawhaney said.
The employees of the airline in Calcutta, he said, have not been getting their salaries since March. Some of those who have left alleged the airline was yet to pay their gratuity and other dues.
Travel agents said the airline should pay refunds to the passengers from the money earned from the sale of the office.
“Many passengers and tour operators are yet to get refunds for the tickets they had booked before news of the closure of the Jet operations became public. The airline should pay the refunds from the sale of properties,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, east, Travel Agents Federation of India.
The airline had earlier this year lost its office and check-in counters at Calcutta airport, which were given to other airlines.