The two-decade-plus success story of India’s first, private, full-service airline may finally be over. Jet Airways has “temporarily” suspended flights as of 10:30 p.m. (Indian Standard Time) tonight (1 p.m. EDT).
This follows the carrier’s largest lenders, which are owed around $1.2 billion, refusing to give in to a request for critical interim funding. While Jet was looking at an initial funding package of $225 million, it reduced this to $57 million on April 16 during a board meeting. The banks rejected this too. “Since no emergency funding from the lenders or any other source is forthcoming, the airline will not be able to pay for fuel or other critical services to keep the operations going,” said a Jet press release issued to the Stock Exchange. Jet, which was running on just six of its once 119-strong fleet, had already shut down international operations. A few days ago a lessor repossessed an aircraft in Amsterdam, leaving passengers stranded.
An Expression of Interest released by the lenders, according to an airline official, is unlikely to yield positive results as the airline has lost its major assets—its fleet and airport slots. Meanwhile, AIN has learned, the shortage of experienced pilots in the industry is steadily being filled by Jet’s jobless pilots, taking major salary cuts.
According to the release, the bid documents have been issued (dated April 17) and will conclude on May 10. “We are actively working to try and ensure that the bid process leads to a viable solution for the company,” the release reads. A few weeks back, Kapil Kaul, chief of Center of Aviation India and the Middle East, spoke with AIN. He cautioned that this would happen if the airline was not restructured immediately and that delays in acquiring funds would “erode confidence” of investors. Jet’s 17 owned aircraft are presently heavily mortgaged.