Jet Airways is unlikely to take off again since lenders to the beleaguered airline have, so far, not received any proposals to revive the carrier. The deadline for submitting bids expired on Monday and the committee of creditors will meet on Thursday to take stock of the situation. Last month, the lenders had called for fresh expressions of interest (EoI) after a Russian government-backed entity, Far East Development Fund, showed early interest in the airline at the eleventh hour.
While atleast two other parties were understood to be interested, no formal plans were received till March 9, sources told FE. “No bids were received till the deadline. We will have to see what the CoC does now,” one person aware of the matter said.
In the absence of bidders, lenders may have to consider liquidation, although the value of the airline’s assets have eroded significantly, another source said. Meanwhile, creditors have filed claims worth over Rs 35,200 crore against the airline. “I fear we are very near the end of the road for Jet Airways – the proverbial ‘chicken or egg’ is what killed the airline,” Vishesh C Chandiok, CEO, Grant Thornton India, the firm overseeing the airline’s resolution, wrote on a micro-blogging website last week.
Jet Airways was grounded almost a year ago after it ran out of funds to continue operations. The State Bank of India (SBI) dragged the airline to insolvency court last year, after multiple failed attempts to sell it. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted Jet Airways for insolvency in June 2019, and the court appointed Grant Thornton’s Ashish Chhawchharia as the resolution professional for the process. The current deadline for the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) ends on March 15.
The CoC has so far called for EoIs thrice under the CIRP. Many entities, including the Hinduja Group and Colombian Synergy Group, were interested in the airline at some point, but did not take things forward. The Synergy Group, after engaging with the process for around four months, got cold feet when lenders could not guarantee the return of Jet’s slots and flying rights in crucial international locations. In the absence of promising bids, lenders even initiated the process of monetising some of Jet’s assets in Amsterdam in January.
Jet Airways was India’s second largest airline till 2018, with 13.8% market share. When the airline was grounded in April 2019, around 16,000 permanent employees and over 6,000 contract employees were left stranded overnight. Naresh Goyal, founder and ex-promoter of Jet Airways is currently under investigation by government agencies. Last week, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case against Goyal under Prevention of Money Laundering Act.