Naresh Goyal (Image: Reuters)
Even as he delivered on his promise to give an update on Jet Airways resolution plan on March 18, Chairman Naresh Goyal in a new letter on Monday, asked pilots for "further short time" to complete the resolution process.
"While we continue to face the challenges of the recent past, as I have committed to you to maintain an open line of communication with you, I write today to update you," said Goyal.
"The complexity of the process though has led to some delays and will require a further short time to conclude. I once again assure you that I am personally committed to have the process completed as soon as possible and restore much needed stability to our operations at the earliest," he added.
The letter on Monday, followed a similar one on March 1, when he appealed to the pilots for "continued support."
He had said: "While a few steps remain, some critical steps are behind us and the remaining approval processes are well underway. I assure you that I am personally working this situation as rapidly as possible."
But since then, there has been a deadlock in the three-cornered talks between Jet Airways, its partner Etihad Airways and the lenders led by State Bank of India. The resolution plan includes fresh allotment of shares to lenders, and investment from the present shareholders.
Both, Etihad and Goyal, are said to be insisting on their conditions. The Abu Dhabi-based airline has 24 percent stake, and Goyal holds 51 percent in Jet Airways.
The Indian airline, which on Monday announced further grounding of aircraft and default in repayment of debts, has to repay about Rs 1,700 crore by the end of March. Its pilots, who haven't been paid full salaries for three months, may now evaluate options with most of them being approached with offers by IndiGo and GoAir.
While Etihad wants to cap Goyal's stake, and doesn't want to participate in an open offer, the founder Chairman is reluctant to let go.
With Monday's announcement, Jet Airways has grounded about 60 aircraft, half of its fleet. Scores of its flights have been cancelled.
Taking cognisance, Goyal said:
"While our discussions with our lessors continue and we keep them updated at all times, as a responsible airline we have consciously and proactively decided to curtail our schedule and network according to the number of aircraft we are currently operating. This will ensure the sanctity of our schedule, while keeping the Regulatory Authorities briefed."
Goyal assured pilots that he is committed to ensure their salary dues, but only once the resolution plan is passed.
"Let me once more assure you that I am fully committed to ensure that your deferred salary dues are cleared on priority once all parties sign off on the Resolution Plan and I recommit to you my best and most strenuous efforts 24x7 towards this end. I am also fully committed to keep our communication lines open and look forward to reverting with more information in the near future," he wrote.
"You may have read the recent comment by the SBI Chairman as reported in the media, expressing his optimism on its completion shortly. The complexity of the process though has led to some delays and will require a further short time to conclude. I once again assure you that I am personally committed to have the process completed as soon as possible and restore much needed stability to our operations at the earliest. Meanwhile talks with our strategic partner Etihad Airways and lenders led by SBI are ongoing," Goyal wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile, Etihad CEO Tony Douglas met top officials of SBI on Monday.
SBI, the lead lender, has till now maintained that it is not considering the NCLT route to recover its loans. A senior SBI official had said
that the resolution is likely within a week.