Jet Airways lenders hope bidding process can save airline
Jet Airways was once India’s largest airline.
Creditors of India’s beleaguered Jet Airways have said they are “reasonably hopeful” a bidding process with potential investors for a controlling stake in the airline will save the company.
That was also the mood in Mumbai, where a group of employees gathered outside the carrier’s headquarters demanding to know if their jobs were secure.
A consortium of 26 lenders led by the State Bank of India released a statement on Thursday following the cash-starved carrier’s decision late Wednesday to suspend flight operations.
Jet Airways, once India’s largest airline, had earlier in the week reduced its operations to seven aircraft flying only domestic routes.
“Since no emergency funding from the lenders or any other source of funding was forthcoming, it would therefore not have been possible for us to pay for fuel or other critical services to keep the operations going,” said Jet’s chief executive in a statement published on the company’s website.
Zoya Shaikh, a 23-year-old Jet Airways airport agent, said she is still waiting for this month’s salary.
“There is no clear idea of what is happening. We have been told by the airline management to wait for what the bidders plan to do,” she said.
Jet Airways pilots have complained that they have not been paid in four months. They say 20,000 jobs are at stake.
Shares in the Mumbai-based airline plunged 30.2% in intraday trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Travel agents in New Delhi said the suspension of operations is affecting prices and availability of flights in and outside of India.
Jyoti Chopra, of Sadhana Tours India, said there were no seats available on any direct flights from Delhi to London Heathrow anytime in the next six days. One-way flights with one or more stops were selling at about 43% higher than a week ago.
“If a passenger has something urgent, I don’t know how they will do it,” she said.