Jet Airways trouble: Lessors of debt-laden airline may take back aircraft

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Updated: February 14, 2019 7:14:03 AM

Jet posted a huge Rs 1323-crore loss during Q1FY19 while its September quarter losses stood at Rs 1,297 crore.

Jet posted a huge Rs 1323-crore loss during Q1FY19 while its September quarter losses stood at Rs 1,297 crore.

Cash-strapped Jet Airways could face further trouble as some of its lessors are planning to take back their leased aircraft to the airline if the latter’s board meeting on February 14 fails to come up with a firm recapitalisation plan.

The Jet board is meeting on Thursday to approve the company’s earnings during the October-December quarter and the lessors who have not been paid leasing charges for months expect the board to come up with a firm recapitalisation plan.

A top executive of MC Aviation Partners, an aircraft-leasing subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp, which is among the several Jet aircraft lessors, which has not received leasing charges since October last year, said, “We may repossess the aircraft”.

The Tokyo-based leasing firm has leased five Boeing 737-800 aircraft to Jet for a 10-year period in 2013. “We have worked with the airline for many years and it has been in financial trouble before. But it has always come out of it. We are hopeful a decision on recapitalisation is taken on Thursday,” the executive said, adding that the repossession notice has not been sent to the airline yet. The executive did not divulge the amount due from the beleaguered carrier.

Jet Airways did not reply to queries sent by FE till the time of going to the press.

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Last week, the airline had said four of it aircraft have been grounded due to the non-payment of outstanding dues to lessors under lease agreements. Jet has a total debt over Rs 8,000 crore at the end of September 2018.

According to rating agency Icra, the airline has large repayments of Rs 1,700 crore due until March 2019, Rs 2,445.5 crore in FY20 and Rs 2,167.9 crore in FY21.

The executive said the lease payments are usually secured by letter of credits by the airlines but in Jet’s case the dues have exceeded the secured amount. “We have not encashed guarantees as of now. But it only covers a fraction of the dues,” the executive said.

The Mumbai-based carrier on January 28 said it proposes to increase share capital elevenfold to Rs 2,200 crore from Rs 200 crore.

A Dubai-based law firm executive advising aviation leasing clients said the repossession of aircraft could be a cumbersome process for lessors in India. “The aircraft repossession can take anywhere between six and nine months in India as it requires a court’s decree after deregistration (of aircraft) by the regulator (DGCA),” Oliver Tebbit, partner, Watson Farley & Williams (Middle East) LLP, said. Generally, it takes about a month in other countries, he added.

Jet posted a huge Rs 1323-crore loss during Q1FY19 while its September quarter losses stood at Rs 1,297 crore.

DGCA reviewing Jet Airways flights’ schedule every 15 days
Aviation regulator DGCA is reviewing every 15 days the schedule of flights to be operated by crisis-hit Jet Airways, according to a senior official. A senior official said the DGCA is reviewing the schedule of flights of Jet Airways every 15 days in order to ensure that there are no sudden flight disruptions due to grounding of aircraft.

Besides, the watchdog is keeping a watch on various other aspects of the airline as per regulations, the official added.

When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said the airline’s base schedule for Winter 2018 has been approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“Like all airlines, Jet Airways is voluntarily keeping the regulator and airport operators informed of any network/ schedule changes and we are in constant dialogue with the DGCA,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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