Mumbai, April 3: In what is believed to be a major setback for cash-strapped Jet Airways, less than 15 aircraft of private carrier are currently operational, Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola informed on Wednesday. In March, the SBI-led consortium of lenders had taken over the management of the cash-hit Jet Airways. When Kharola was asked about the active fleet of the the airline, he said that, on Tuesday, the number was 28. The airlines has around 119 aircraft in its fleet that fly across the country and continents. Jet Airways Crisis: 'No More Jets Will be Grounded', Says Ministry of Civil Aviation.
On Wednesday, the airline clarified on several media reports in regard to airline’s ability to operate on international routes. "As informed to DGCA, airline is operating a curtailed schedule with sufficient number of aircraft, and is compliant with applicable guidelines", the airline was quoted by ANI.
On Tuesday, the cash-crunch hit private carrier in its filing to the stock exchanges, said it has grounded 15 more aircraft due to non-payment of rentals to lessors, taking the total number of grounded planes to 69. This has considerably reduced the fleet strength in the airline. In the last week, the airline had informed the government it has 35 aircraft in operations.
Dues Not Cleared
In the past few months, Jet Airways has witnessed exceedingly challenging times in the organisation. The pilots, who along with engineers and senior staff have not been paid for almost four months now, have said they will not fly from April if dues were not cleared and a roadmap on future payment was not provided by March 31.
Anguished by the non-payment of salaries, around 200 pilots had written individually to the Jet CEO, threatening to go on "leave of absence". However, over 1,000 pilots have decided to go ahead with their “no flying” call from April 1 following the airline failing to receive funds from the banks Friday, its pilots guild informed. Jet Airways Crisis: 80 Per Cent of Jet Fleet May Take to Skies by April-End.
Looming Threat on Jet Airways
Amid the looming threat of halting of operations from April 1, the struggling private carrier Jet Airways has expressed inability to clear salary dues of its pilots, saying it could pay only the balance 87.50 per cent of December pay.
Founder Chairman Naresh Goyal Steps Down
In March, SBI-led consortium of lenders became the owner of Jet Airways after its founder-chairman Naresh Goyal along with his wife Anita stepped down from the board under a debt-rejig plan. Goyal also quit the chairman's post. After Goyal's exit, Rs 1,500 crore was infused as emergency funding by the lenders to look at immediate issues.
Suresh Prabhu Says, 'Airlines Responsible for Their Financial Performance'
Amid Jet Airways crisis, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said the efficient operations and financial performance are individual responsibilities of carriers, and the government cannot interfere in their day-to-day operations.
SBI-Led Consortium of Lenders Take Charge of Jet Airways
It was on March 25 that Jet Airways’ board approved a resolution plan formulated by SBI-led domestic lenders. Under the plan, lenders decided to take control of the airline and make a fund infusion of Rs 1,500 crore. Till March, the airline had taken 54 planes out of operations due to lease rental defaults.
Vijay Mallya Comes to Jet's Rescue
On March 26, businessman Vijay Mallya, who is currently facing trial in a UK Court, told the Indian banks to "take his money" and save cash-strapped Jet Airways. "I repeat once again that I have placed liquid assets before the Hon'ble Karnataka High Court to pay off the PSU Banks and all other creditors. Why do the Banks not take my money. It will help them to save Jet Airways if nothing else," Mallya tweeted.
The liquor baron went on to highlight the "double standards" of the NDA government, and questioned why public sector banks pitched in to save Jet Airways but let his company, Kingfisher Airlines, "fail ruthlessly".
The domestic airline industry in India is facing a rough times since the past few months now. While Jet Airways has been forced to ground planes, cancel flights and delay salaries to pilots, national carrier Air India continues to grapple with financial woes.
Jet Airways is facing a hard time with cash flows for the past six months due to rising fuel costs and intense competition. It has even delayed payment to lessors, airport operators and oil marketing companies besides a part of its workforce to keep the company running. Reports inform that the airline owes Rs 8,000 crore to the SBI-led lenders consortium. However, the SBI expects Jet to find a new financial investor by the first quarter of next fiscal.