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Exclusive | Jet Airways may be forced to ground 42 aircraft in the next 2 days

Many of the aircraft will be grounded for want of spare parts.

February 27, 2019 / 09:46 AM IST
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Even as the wait continues for the banks-led resolution plan to ease its liquidity crunch, operational headaches are increasing for Jet Airways. The airline may be forced to ground 42 of its aircraft, almost one-third of its fleet of 123 planes, by the end of month.

Sources told Moneycontrol that 28 aircraft have already been taken off service. By the end of February, 14 more aircraft will be grounded, said an executive from the industry.

"Many of the 14 aircraft are grounded due to lack of spare parts," said the source. Another executive added that the company may ground more of its Max aircraft by February 27.

The airline's fleet includes 18 ATRs, 5 Boeing 737 Max and 71 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The grounding comes even as State Bank of India is set to meet Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal and top executives of Etihad Airways in Mumbai on Wednesday. Etihad owns 24 percent in the Indian airline.

Plans stuck

Jet Airways had tried to lease or sell some of its owned aircraft to raise money that could help pare its over Rs 8,000-crore debt. But the plans, including a wet leasing deal with TruJet for its ATRs, got stuck.

Many of the aircraft have also been grounded due to non-payments of dues to the lessors. On February 23, Jet Airways announced that an additional two aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment, apart from the four that the company had already disclosed.

But industry executives said that the actual number was far higher.

Responding to Moneyontrol's questions, a Jet Airways spokesperson disputed the number of aircraft grounded, and reiterated that some of the ATRs and Max aircraft continue to operate. But the spokesperson didn't specify how many of the planes were grounded.

"Jet Airways also continues to be actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors, providing them regular updates on its efforts to improve liquidity. Our aircraft lessors have been supportive of the Company's efforts in this regard," said the spokesperson.

He added that the airline is taking "proactive steps to minimise inconvenience to its guests and avoid disruption to its network."

The airline, he said, is "undertaking suitable adjustments to its schedule, as required, and informing its guests well-in-time with appropriate choices of re-accommodation on alternate flights in line with established regulations. Nonetheless, the airline does apologise to its guests for the inconvenience that these interim adjustments may cause to some of them."

The airline added that it continues to work towards the finalisation of the provisional resolution plan, along with partner Etihad Airways.

The plan was approved by the Board of Directors of Jet Airways on  February 14, and was later cleared by shareholders at the extraordinary general meeting held on February 21.

Shareholding of both promoter Naresh Goyal (51 percent) and Etihad (24 percent) will dilute, and the lenders will get control of the company. Crucially, all the three stakeholders are expected to pump in more money, important for the airline's survival.
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
first published: Feb 27, 2019 08:02 am