India's Jet wet leases A330 to Etihad as stake talks go on

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India’s Jet Airways has wet leased one of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft to the UAE’s Etihad Airways, it was reported, as the two continue discussions over an equity stake sale.

In a text message sent to India’s Economic Times, Jet CEO Nikos Kardassis said that the wide body aircraft and 60 cabin crew would be leased to the Abu Dhabi-based carrier. The cabin crew will undergo three months of training in Mumbai beforehand.

"We enter into a wet lease agreement with Etihad for one A330-200. Since we stopped the Chennai-Brussels flight, we have excess qualified A330 cabin crew based in Chennai. We will use this crew for the wet lease operation with Etihad," Kardassis said in an SMS.

In a wet lease agreement, one carrier provides the aircraft, crew and maintenance for an agreed period, while the other takes on the responsibility for supplying and operating the craft. In this case, neither party provided details on how long the lease would last.

Jet currently operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, including 11 Airbus A330-200, which are deployed on long haul routes.  Etihad currently has 16 of the planes, whose list price is about US$200m, with a further two on order.

Last month, Chennai-based Jet announced a sale and leaseback of its London Heathrow landing slots to Etihad for US$70m as talks between the two over a stake sale go on. Some reports have speculated that the deal has hit a snag due to the current ownership status of Jet, which is majority held by a company in the British Isle’s Isle of Man.

Sources have said that Etihad is seeking to buy a 24 percent stake in Jet, India's number two carrier, for up to US$330m.

The Jet deal, if closed, will be the first since India relaxed ownership rules in September last year and allowed foreign carriers to buy up to 49 percent in domestic carriers that are battling stiff competition and high operating costs.

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