India’s Jet Airways extends grounding of international flights

The crisis in Indian carrier Jet Airways deepened on Monday, with the airline extending cancellation of its international operations until Thursday.

Jet Airways management, which has yet not made any headway in getting the promised $216 million interim financial support from its lenders’ consortum, has also convened an urgent meeting of its board of directors on Tuesday to take its guidance on the future course of action.

The Jet management said in a statement issued late on Monday that they have been working with the lenders to secure interim funding for the airline’s operations without any success so far.

“The interim funding has not been forthcoming thus far, and as a result of this we have extended cancellation of international operations through Thursday, April 19,” the airline management said.

Jet management said they will place before the company board of directors the current status of its engagement with the lenders and other related matters in the meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning.

“The management will seek guidance from the Board on the next steps forward. We will keep you updated on all critical developments,” the statement said.

In a separate statement issued on Monday, State Bank of India (SBI), the leader of the lenders’ consortium to Jet Airways, said the bid process for orderly sale of equity in Jet Airways is currently being run by SBI CAPS and is being vetted by the legal team.

The prospective bidders will be shortlisted shortly.

“The proposed equity conversion by banks, if any, will be undertaken as a transitory mechanism to facilitate the bidding cum sale process,” the SBI statement said.

SBI is acting on behalf of the group of lenders as part of the bank-led resolution process.

The deadline for bidding for stake acquisition in Jet Airways ended on Friday.

Etihad Airways, which holds 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, has reportedly put in its bid for increasing its stake in the carrier.

A US-based private equity major, another international airline and NIIF (National Investment and Infrastructure Fund) are the other bidders said to be in the fray for acquiring stake in Jet Airways.

Industry sources said without urgent infusion of funds, Jet may not be able to keep up whatever skeletal operations it is running now for long.

Jet pilots and employees unions have also threatened to strike work if they are not paid their salaries immediately.

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