Lenders trying to revive Jet Airways by management change: Source

Lenders led by the SBI are trying to revive debt-laden Jet Airways by change in management as they feel collapse of the airline will not be good for consumers and competition, a source said after the SBI chief met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.

New Delhi: Lenders led by the SBI are trying to revive debt-laden Jet Airways by change in management as they feel collapse of the airline will not be good for consumers and competition, a source said after the SBI chief met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.

With Jet flying just about a third of its fleet, defaulting on interest payments and delaying salaries to pilot, State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar along with Aviation Secretary Pradip Singh Kharola and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Misra met Jaitley Wednesday afternoon.

Kumar said the meeting was to apprise the government, which is an important stakeholder, about the happenings.

He, however, emphatically stated that it was in the interest of the lenders to keep Jet Airways, which was once India's second-biggest airline, flying and dragging the debt-ridden firm under bankruptcy proceedings is the last option.

In case the airline collapses, 23,000 jobs would be at stake.

Though Kumar refused to share details of the lenders' revival plan, the source said that Jet Airways lenders resolution plan may include change in management as they feel it is not possible to run the company with present management.

Jet Airways is headed by Naresh Goyal, who currently holds 51 per cent stake. Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways has 24 per cent.

On getting a new player in Jet Airways, Kumar said, "No possibility is ruled out".

"The dialogue with Etihad is on. It is not that they have conclusively decided that they will go out. But there are certain conditions which they want to be fulfilled and it is nothing but that the airline should be professionally managed and without any interference," he said.

"It is in the lender's Interest, the country's interest, the aviation sector's interest that Jet Airways continues to fly," the SBI chief added.

The pilots union of Jet Airways had on Tuesday threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their salaries are not paid by March 31.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said only 41 aircraft of the Jet Airways were currently available for operation and there may be "further attrition" of flights "in coming weeks".

41 aircraft is just one-third of Jet's fleet of 119 planes.