Lenders shortlist four investors for Jet Airways

Ashwini Phadnis Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on April 16, 2019

24 per cent of Jet Airways skate is owned by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways PJSC. File Photo of president and CEO, Etihad Airways, James Hogan (L) and Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal.   -  BusinessLine

Even as lenders to Jet Airways shortlisted four potential nvestors, the management of the ailing airline made a fresh plea for immediate interim funding to keep the company operational till a new owner takes charge. Hectic parleys were going on between various stakeholders on a day which also saw Naresh Goyal withdrawing his application to regain control of the airline.

While State Bank of India is yet to announce the shortlisted names officially, sources close to the lenders said investors including Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, the Indian government-backed National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) and private equity firms Indigo Partners and TPG have been given the go ahead to place a binding financial bid by April 30. .A total of seven entities had expressed interest to bid for the ailing airline.

Another source added that Etihad may combine with NIIF to place a joint bid. “Both Etihad and NIIF have Abu Dhabi connections, so they may put in a joint bid. The lenders are keen to have Etihad take over Jet Airways’ operations as it is the only strategic investor in the fray,”said a third source.

But the immediate worry is the lack of funds to keep the company afloat. Jet Airways has sought interim funding of ₹400 crore from its lenders, PS Kharola, Secretary of Civil Aviation, said on Tuesday.

Till late night, it was not clear whether the banks were willing to provide money to the airline to enable it to continue operations.

The airline merely said that due to “critical liquidity position of the company, its operations have been severely impacted. The company’s leadership, in consultation with its board of directors, is engaged with lenders in connection with the said emergency funding request to arrest further deterioration of its services.”

No NCLAT route

Earlier in the day, senior government officials who declined to be identified said that funds will be made available to the airline and that there was no question of the airline taking the NCLT route.

Speaking to newspersons after an interaction with Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Sunil Mehta Punjab National Bank Managing Director & CEO, said: “Discussions for reviving the airline are under way and nothing has been finalised as of now.”

The assurance from the government came on a day when Jet Airways wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministries of Finance and Civil Aviation and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra stating that it needed an urgent induction of funds, without which it will not be able to continue flying. The letter added that if funds are not made available, the airline will not be able to refund passengers who had booked its flights online, a Boeing 777 may get grounded in Amsterdam and 22,000 families will be affected. The letter followed several rounds of discussions by the board on Tuesday with temporary suspension of operations as one of the items on the agenda. According to Kharola, the airline operated with five aircraft on Tuesday.


Additional aircraft

In a related development, Kharola said the industry will induct 21 additional aircraft by May-end and airlines are also looking to wet-lease more aircraft to tide over the crisis caused by the grounding of Jet Airways fleet and the grounding of Boeing MAX aircraft globally, leading to increase in fares.



Published on April 16, 2019

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