India’s government sees little hope of a bidder emerging for debt-laden Jet Airways Ltd, two senior finance ministry officials said, even as thousands of employees plead with the government for a rescue. Parties that had initially expressed interest in Jet, which is saddled with roughly $1.2 billion of debt, have so far failed to make firm bids to bail it out, increasing the odds that it could soon face bankruptcy proceedings.
“There is little scope in the revival of Jet,” said one official, adding that if a bidder emerged, the government was still willing to return slots to the private airline which have temporarily been given to rivals. A second official said it was only a matter of time before someone dragged Jet to the National Company Law Tribunal - India’s bankruptcy court - for recovery of dues from Jet.
It will most likely be one of Jet’s creditors and not its lenders, said both the officials. Unions have been pleading with the government to ensure the airline is rescued. Last week, in a letter to the prime minister, its pilots union urged the government to intervene and speed up the bid process for the airline and stop the deregistration of its aircraft by its lessors.
AAI taking stock of space occupied by Jet at airports
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has started checking inventory of the space occupied by Jet at airports across the country. AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said stock-taking of Jet’s equipment both on airside and in terminals is being done. Once this exercise is complete, the airline will be asked to vacate the space and the same will be given back to it if it revives or it goes to other carriers. AAI feels when the airline is not operational, why should it occupy space.
Jet suspended operations on April 17. As of now, there is no clarity if the airline will be revived. The move may actually help Jet if it revives. AAI will stop billing Jet once the exercise is complete and the grounded carrier will not keep getting dues mounted on it for continued occupation of valuable airport space, both inside terminals and at airside.