Lohani may meet SBI chief over leasing of wide-body Jet planes

PTI Mumbai | Updated on April 19, 2019

Air India Chairman Ashwani Lohani is likely to meet State Bank Chairman Rajnish Kumar on Friday over the national carrier’s plans to lease five wide-body Boeing planes from the now grounded Jet Airways.

Weighed down by a mountain of debt and falling revenue, Jet Airways announced suspension of its entire operations from Wednesday night and owns 16 wide-body planes, 10 B777-300ERs and six Airbus A330s. The SBI-led consortium of lenders are now running the airline under a debt recast plan.

The Air India chairman had written to SBI chief on Wednesday expressing interest in taking on lease five of the Boeing 777s from Jet and deploy them in key international routes. And the meeting, expected to take place in New Delhi, is in furthering this. “Lohani is expected to meet Kumar today to discuss his plans of leasing five Jet Airways’ B777s. Air India is keen to launch more international routes and enhance frequencies on the existing ones.

“But it does not have additional aircraft to do so. If it is able to strike a deal with Jet lenders, it can expand the international operations further,” a source privy to the development told PTI. The Air India spokesperson was not available to confirm or deny the meeting.

In a dry-lease arrangement, the lessor gives out only the aircraft to a lessee, while in wet-lease, the aircraft comes with the complete crew, maintenance and insurance. After the grounding of Jet, Air India is the only domestic carrier now operating services on long haul and ultra-long haul routes like London, Paris, New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, among other cities.

Published on April 19, 2019

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