With the deadline for potential investors to place initial bids to acquire Jet Airways closing at 6pm Friday, the operational situation at the cash-strapped airline remained “fluid” as it operated less than 50 domestic flights, a senior government official said. The airline cancelled all of international departures till April 15 and operated on a skeletal schedule for domestic flights. Friday evening, senior officials of the civil aviation ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) briefed officials at the Prime Minister’s Office to apprise them of Jet’s situation.
Further, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu directed civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to review issues concerning Jet Airways, following which Kharola met airline officials along with the DGCA. In a statement, a Jet Airways spokesperson said: “Jet Airways has cancelled its international operations from 12th-15th April, 2019…In parallel, the airline’s management and its key stakeholders including its consortium of lenders, continue to work closely towards resolving the situation”.
According to sources, SBI Capital Markets (SBICAPs), which is overseeing the process of Jet Airways’ stake sale on behalf of Jet’s lenders led by SBI, received at least six initial bids from parties including private equity firms like TPG Capital, Indigo Partners, and Radcliffe Capital. However, contrary to expectations, former Chairman Naresh Goyal has not submitted any bid even as the deadline for submission of EoIs ended on Friday.
However, contrary to expectations, former Chairman Naresh Goyal has not submitted any bid even as the deadline for submission of EoIs ended on Friday.
National Infrastructure Investment Fund is also believed to have submitted the bids. “This is only initial interest. The final bidding will have to be submitted by April 30. The pricing of the stake will be done as per the financial condition of the airline. As the finances of the airline have gone for a toss, lenders may have to witness a big discount to the current market price of the airline,” said a source. hile Goyal has not directly bid for the airline, it’s still not clear whether he’s part of any consortium which has submitted EoIs. Lenders had earlier said Goyal is eligible to bid for the airline. Sources also pointed out that it isn’t necessary that all those who have submitted EoIs will submit the final bids.
Jet’s management met its bankers on Friday in the capital to seek the promised fund infusion of Rs 1,500 crore. Kharola, who was briefed about the meeting, said that they will meet again on Monday since Friday’s meeting was inconclusive. He added that Jet had funds to stay afloat till Monday.
However, there’s a ray of hope as Goyal has pledged 26.1 per cent stake with Punjab National Bank enabling the lenders to release Rs 1,500 crore for the day-to-day running of the airline. “If lenders extend the funds, the airline may be able to restart some of its operations by early next week,” said a source, adding, “it will be a Herculean task as lessors have taken away most of the aircraft.”
On March 25, Jet Airways’ board approved a resolution plan put forth by its consortium of bankers, which saw the lenders picking up controlling stake in Jet Airways, alongwith pumping in Rs 1,500 crore as an emergency measure to keep the airline afloat. Kharola also said that Jet Airways, which was operating 14 aircraft till Thursday, was operating 11 on Friday and was expected to fly only six to seven on Saturday.
As per information sourced from the DGCA, 11 of Jet’s aircraft have been de-registered and lessors have repossessed them. Applications to de-register another 14 planes have been made by various lessors with the regulator. Furthermore, Jet Airways employees held protests at the Mumbai airport earlier during the day seeking clarity on their salary payments.