Jet Airways is running on fumes as lessors have applied to Indian aviation authorities to de-register up to 24 aircraft and global cargo handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has seized one of Jet Airways’ B777s at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) because of unpaid fees.
In a statement, WFS says: “A Jet Airways passenger aircraft was seized at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport today following a court order issued by Haarlem Court in favour of Worldwide Flight Services in relation to the outstanding payment of handling fees.
“We regret having to take this course of action and apologise for any inconvenience to the airline’s customers. We hope Jet Airways will be able to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”
Jet Airways is the country’s oldest surviving private airline and was once highly regarded as the cornerstone of the mainline Indian travel market, but has posted losses in nine of the past 11 years.
This latest development may well be the tipping point for the beleaguered Indian carrier – which has estimated debts of more than USD 1.2 billion – as it is facing an onslaught back home with its aircraft lessors applying to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to de-register a number of aircraft leased to the airline.
On Wednesday, lessors applied to de-register 13 aircraft of the B737-700 and 800 series. Fly Aircraft Holdings Nineteen Ltd, Wells Fargo Trust Company, CIT Group Finance, Fly Aircraft Holdings Seventeen Ltd, and Jade Aviation are amongst the few companies that have approached the regulator, according to Indian media reports. So far a total of 24 requests have been made to DGCA for de-registration of aircraft
Two aircraft leased by Avolon and five aircraft leased by MCAP have been de-registered already with requests for five aircraft from ACG, four aircraft from SMBC, seven aircraft from Aergo Capital, three aircraft from BBAM, and five other aircraft from Avolon are still pending with the DGCA.
According to the last update, only 14 aircraft out of 119 in the fleet were operational with the following flights cancelled from 11 April including: Bangalore – Amsterdam, Chennai – Paris and all flights to Singapore.
India’s aviation ministry had earlier said it will review Jet’s eligibility to fly abroad if its fleet fell below 20. Government rules stipulate an airline must have at least 20 operational aircraft to be eligible to fly abroad.
“Jet is operating 14 aircraft today (Thursday),” said a senior DGCA official, according to a Times of India report. These aircraft are: seven widebody (six B777 and one A330); four B737 and three turboprop ATRs.
And to make matters worse, the Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has also halted the supply of jet fuel to struggling carrier from Wednesday afternoon over non-payment, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Supplies were reportedly reinstated late Wednesday night.
Desperately short of cash, the airline has been paying only part salaries to its over 16,000 employees which forced a section of its pilots on Tuesday to send legal notice to the management which is now being headed by the lenders, led by State Bank of India.
Meanwhile, the Time’s article cites sources who say founder Naresh Goyal may himself, submit expression of interest (EoI) to buy a stake in the airline, of which the deadline is Friday 12 April. All EoI’s that are found eligible, can then submit bids by 30 April.
Goyal, who has been a controversial figure in the various attempts to keep the airline afloat, has pledged a 26 per cent stake in Jet as security for loans from Punjab National Bank, according to the report.
According to the sale process that started on Monday potential buyers can make offers for as much as a 75 per cent stake in the carrier. As of today, no bids have been forthcoming.