Etihad assisting Jet Airways passengers in wake of airline's collapse

The State Bank of India-led consortium is looking to sell a controlling stake in Jet and has shortlisted four potential buyers, including Etihad Airways, which already owns 24%
Etihad assisting Jet Airways passengers in wake of airline's collapse
Etihad said that it is helping re-book affected passengers on the next available flights.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 18 Apr 2019 10:36 AM

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is assisting Jet Airways guests with travel arrangements after the airline suspended all flights after failing to secure emergency funding from lenders, Etihad said on Thursday.

Etihad added that it is helping re-book affected passengers on the next available flights.

“We continue to work with Jet management, lenders and key stakeholders in the context of the lender-managed effort to restructure the company,” an Etihad spokesperson said.

The State Bank of India-led consortium is looking to sell a controlling stake in Jet and has shortlisted four potential buyers, including Etihad Airways, which already owns 24 percent. The four have until May 10 to submit formal bids.

On Wednesday, Jet announced that it “is compelled to cancel all its international and domestic flights”.

But until then, the carrier's remaining fleet is grounded, with a final flight from Amritsar to Mumbai landing in the early hours of Thursday.

Earlier, Jet had asked a consortium of lenders to provide $57.5 million, which the airline never received.

“This has been a very difficult decision but without interim funding, the airline is simply unable to conduct flight operations in a manner that delivers to the very reasonable expectations of its guests, employees, partners and service providers,” the airline said in a statement.

While the airline once operated over 120 aircraft at its peak, by Wednesday it was only able to operate five.

Jet Airways shares plunged more than 32 percent on Thursday on the Bombay Stock Exchange. It was worth more than four times that a year ago.

The lenders that control the airline said Thursday they were focusing on finding a buyer for Jet, which was until recently India's second-biggest carrier by market share.

"Lenders are reasonably hopeful that the bid process is likely to be successful in determining fair value of the enterprise in a transparent manner," they said in a statement.

20,000 jobs

A collapse of Jet, and the loss of more than 20,000 jobs, would deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-business reputation as he seeks a second term in ongoing national elections.

The chairman of state-carrier Air India, which has been bailed out by the government several times, said Jet's temporary closure was a setback for India's aviation sector.

"We have in the past witnessed many airlines shutting shop and it is time to appreciate that the razor thin margins which airlines are forced to operate with in a competitive environment results in a scenario that encourages unsustainability," Ashwani Lohani said in a Facebook post.

Jet, which has debts of more than $1 billion, has been in a tailspin for months. It has defaulted on loans and failed to pay many staff since the start of the year.

Bad investments, competition from several low-cost carriers, high oil prices and a weak rupee contributed to Jet's financial demise, experts say.

Its plight has been compared to that of Kingfisher Airlines, which ceased operations in 2012 before later going bust, causing thousands of job losses and huge financial costs to lenders.

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