Jet Airways faces hard bargain as aircraft leases come up for renewal

By: | Updated: November 21, 2018 7:30 AM

With payments due on November 24, cash-strapped Jet Airways will have to bargain hard with lessors as it renew leases for narrow-bodied aircraft.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said: “The company continues to actively engage with its lessors and has been providing them regular updates on our ongoing efforts to improve liquidity.”

With payments due on November 24, cash-strapped Jet Airways will have to bargain hard with lessors as it renew leases for narrow-bodied aircraft. The airline must work out a deferred payment agreement for 78 aircraft else it will need to curtail its operations. Industry experts estimate a narrow body Boeing aircraft, of the type Jet is using, is typically leased at around $1,50,000- $2,00,000 per month.

A Jet Airways spokesperson said: “The company continues to actively engage with its lessors and has been providing them regular updates on our ongoing efforts to improve liquidity. Our partners are mindful of the challenges currently faced by the Indian aviation industry and have been supportive of the company’s efforts. The airline continues to operate as per schedule.” If Jet doesn’t pay up on time, the lessors would be entitled to take back the aircraft and sub-lease them.

Sources told FE that leasing firm GECAS has been negotiating for over three months with Jet for payments for at least 17 aircraft. Mark Martin, CEO at consulting firm Martin Consulting, said leasing firms know the Indian aviation industry is under stress and therefore much will depend on the kind of relationship Jet has forged with the lessors. “One option could be that Jet assures part payments or commits a time line for payments of dues,” Martin said.

In a post-earnings call , Amit Agarwal, deputy CEO and CFO, Jet Airways, had said the airline was looking to do a sale and lease back of six of its wide body Boeing 777s, the proceeds of which will go towards retiring the aircraft debt of about Rs 1,800 crore. As on September 30, 2018, Jet had a consolidated debt of Rs 8,411 crore.

On November 18, Jet had to cancel about 10 flights from Mumbai as some unpaid pilots refused to do extra duty to make up for shortage of manpower. Jet has urged the civil aviation ministry to grant it more time to make payments to the Airports Authority of India. On Monday civil aviation secretary R N Choubey said that the ministry had decided not to intervene in the matter.

“We don’t get into commercial discussions between airlines and airport operators. It is to be done commercially between the two entities,” Choubey had said.

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