Jet suspends international flights till Monday, fleet falls to 11

Bankers seek revised funding plan; fleet size to deplete to 6

Published - April 12, 2019 10:49 pm IST - NEW DELHI / Mumbai

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft stand on tarmac at the domestic airport terminal in Mumbai, India September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircraft stand on tarmac at the domestic airport terminal in Mumbai, India September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/File Photo

Cash-strapped Jet Airways has suspended its international flights till Monday afternoon, according to Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola.

The airline’s fleet depleted to a mere 11 aircraft on Friday from 123 in February. This would further dwindle to six over the weekend, the airline informed the senior government official.

The airline has assured the government that it would operate 40 daily flights on Saturday and Sunday. Mr. Kharola said that this was down from about 3,100 flights per week.

The senior government official was addressing the media after a conference call with the Jet management.

The management also met the airline’s bankers on Friday and would meet them again on Monday after it was asked to come back with a revised proposal for interim funding. The cancellations come in the backdrop of angry passengers and agitating airport staff.

Meanwhile, in a statement, an airline spokesperson said that Jet was ‘working to minimise guest inconvenience’ using its 24x7 contact centre, guest relations and social media response teams to handle schedule adjustments, in line with defined regulatory guidelines, including offering re-accommodation choices or extending applicable refunds. “In parallel, the airline’s management and its key stakeholders, including its consortium of lenders, continue to work closely towards resolving the current situation,” the spokesperson said.

On Thursday, the airline had announced temporary grounding of its international west-bound operations till Friday morning. Jet was the largest international airline in India till it was hit by the financial crisis.

Lease rental default

The airline had also suspended operations to the entire eastern and northeastern markets as Jet informed the stock exchanges of grounding of 10 more aircraft following lease rental default.

Jet Airways, which operates in the international sector with a hub in Amsterdam, has had a Boeing 777 on ground at Schiphol airport since Tuesday as a cargo agent had taken possession of it. The aircraft continued to remain grounded as of Friday evening.

Airport Coordination Ltd., which deals with airport slots, disclosed that Etihad was taking over slots allotted to Jet Airways at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Jet Airways till recently operated three daily flights to London from Mumbai. This was reduced to one and the slot was returned to Delta, from whom it had been leased out by Jet Airways.

Over 400 airport staff from the security, customer services and ramp departments in Mumbai came out to the streets demanding a clear line of communication by the management.

“Salaries have been affected. But what is worse is that the management does not communicate anything with us,” a member of the Jet Airways Officers and Employees Association said. Some of the employees also directly spoke to Rahul Taneja, the airlines’ chief people officer. Nationalist Congress Party leader Kiran Pawaskar led the employees and held discussions with Raj Shivakumar, vice-president network and revenue management, Praveen Iyer, vice president-revenue management among others.

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