Cash-strapped Jet Airways will operate 215 daily flights during April according to its summer schedule approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday, and is unlikely to fulfill the commitment of bringing 40 grounded aircraft back in service by month-end.
Jet Airways’ management assured the ministry of civil aviation last week that its fleet strength would reach 75 aircraft by April-end on the back of immediate funding proposed by its lenders led by State Bank of India (SBI). “Jet had assured of bringing back 80% of fleet last week. If they were sure about getting grounded aircraft back they would have elaborated in the summer schedule. The schedule suggests their fleet strength is likely to remain the same till month end,” an aviation consultant said.
The full-service carrier has been operating with 35 aircraft, down 70% from its operational fleet of 119 at the end of December 2018. The summer schedule enumerates 1,505 weekly flights with majority of them being operated from Mumbai, Delhi and Indore.
A Jet Airways spokesperson said: “The airline is currently operating a curtailed schedule having proactively adjusted its operations given the interim non-availability of some aircraft in its fleet. However, Jet Airways remains confident of successfully resolving the interim situation and is making all efforts to reinstate its network and operations to its earlier levels over the course of the next few weeks.”
A DGCA official said that Jet Airways had submitted the flight schedule for four weeks due to uncertainty about the timeline of cash infusion. “Jet had made a commitment, now it is for them to see how it is fulfilled. It all depends on the cash infusion. They have the pilots who are waiting for duties. We expect them to add more flights from next schedule onwards,” a senior DGCA official said.
The ministry may allocate Jet’s landing slots to other airlines this week to operate on interim basis. Jet operated around 650 daily flights during the 2018 summer schedule applicable between April and October. Last week, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said Jet had shared an aggressive target to bring back 40 aircraft into service. “We want to have maximum number of aircraft in service during the peak holiday season so that passengers do not suffer,” Kharola had told reporters.
On March 25, Jet Airways’ board approved a revival plan put by SBI which involved the stepping down of its promoter-chairman, Naresh Goyal and the banks providing an immediate funding of `1,500 crore. An interim management committee will be formed to manage and monitor the daily operations and cash flow of the company. The lenders will invite expression of interest for bids by April 9 and the deadline for binding bids will be April 30, while a new investor is expected to be on board by May 31.