Jet to resume domestic operations in early 2022
Jet Airways plans to resume operations from the first quarter of 2022, the airline’s new management said on Monday, announcing plans to soon hire 1,000 people, and a shift to Delhi as the base of its operations.
The airline stopped flying in April 2019 after it ran out of funds for its operations and debt. It is now controlled by an investor consortium of UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan and London-based Kalrock Capital after a resolution plan was approved by a bankruptcy court this year.
“Jet Airways 2.0 aims at restarting domestic operations by Q1-2022, and short-haul international operations by Q3/Q4 2022,” Jalan, the lead member of the Jalan Kalrock Consortium and the proposed non-executive chairman of Jet Airways said.
The company also said it has applied for a revalidation of its air operator certificate (AOC), although allocations of flight slots are still pending. The new management is working with authorities and airport coordinators on slot allocation, required airport infrastructure, and night parking, it said.
The company has already hired 150 employees, it said.
“We received the NCLT approval in June 2021 and since then we have been working closely with all concerned authorities to get the airline back in the skies,” Jalan said.
“Our plan is to have more than 50 aircraft in three years and more than 100 in five years which also fits perfectly well with the short-term and long-term business plan of the consortium. The aircraft are being selected based on competitive long term leasing solutions,” Jalan added.
At one point, Jet, promoted by the founder Naresh Goyal, operated over 120 planes and flew to several major international hubs such as Singapore, London and Dubai, in addition to a wide domestic network. At its peak shortly after 2010, its business accounted for well over a fifth of the aviation sector in India as it operated over 300 flights a day. But the company slowly began to lose the market share as low-cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet grew. By 2018, Jet was running into losses and was unable to meet operational costs, such as payments to aircraft lessors and settling fuel bills.
“The revival plan for Jet Airways is being implemented as approved by NCLT and all the creditors will be settled as per the plan in the coming months,” Kalrock Consortium said.
Sudhir Gaur, the acting CEO, said that the airline will now be headquartered in the Delhi-NCR region and its senior management will work from the Corporate Office at Gurugram.
“However, Jet Airways will continue to have strong and significant presence in Mumbai where it will work from its Global One office in Kurla. Jet Airways also has a state-of-the-art training centre located at Global One, which will be retained and used for in-house training for the Jet Airways team,” said Gaur.
Domestic operations will be restarted with a narrow-body aircraft fleet that will be leased from major global aircraft lessors, he added.
India’s aviation sector, like the global industry, was dealt a blow by the Covid-19 pandemic as all but essential travel ground to a halt for much of 2020. In India, the second wave took the wind out of a recovery in the first quarter of 2021 -- prompting some companies to talk of a government bailout.
Experts said Jet’s revival in the time period disclosed by the company was achievable but some things will be key. Dhiraj Mathur, former partner at PwC, a global consultancy firm said: “Jet Airways 2.0 can be revived in the first quarter of 2022 if they are successful in acquiring slots. Everything else is doable.”
Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA-India) said: “ Jet’s resumption in early 2022 is feasible post the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approval. It also depends on their level of preparedness.”