State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar on Wednesday said the lenders of cash-strapped Jet Airways will make every effort to keep the airline flying, PTI reported. SBI is the private airline’s biggest lender, and is leading the efforts to evolve a comprehensive plan to revive the airline.
Kumar reportedly met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Aviation Secretary Pradip Singh Kharola and Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to the prime minister, earlier in the day. “Will make every effort to keep Jet Airways flying,” said Kumar.
Jet Airways chairperson Naresh Goyal earlier said the airline is charting out a bailout plan, led by state-run banks and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, which holds a 24% stake in the carrier.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Tuesday said only 41 aircraft of the debt-ridden private carrier are available for operations, with the number set to reduce in the coming weeks. The airline, which has 119 aircraft, has reduced its operations due to a liquidity crunch. Jet Airways has posted losses of over Rs 1,000 crore for three consecutive quarters since March 2018. The carrier defaulted on loan repayments to banks on December 31.
Kumar on Wednesday said it was possible to get a new player in to restructure the airline. “No possibility is ruled out,” he said, adding that taking Jet Airways under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code would be the final option.
The Jet Airways’ domestic pilots body National Aviators Guild on Tuesday threatened to stop flying from April 1 if there is no clarity on salary payments and resolution process by the end of this month. The guild represents around 1,000 domestic pilots at the airline.
The civil aviation ministry, which held an “emergency meeting” to discuss the crisis at the airline, has asked Jet Airways to avoid last-minute flight changes, keep its planes airworthy and take care of customers affected by flight cancellations.