This week could mark the final nail in the coffin for Jet Airways. None of the bidders who issued an Express of Interest (EoI) submitted a resolution plan, as required. As of Monday, there are no buyers for Jet Airways.
What is Jet’s current status?
Jet Airways has been in a state of limbo since it suspended operations in April of last year. The suspension triggered the airline’s creditors to seek offers from Etihad Airways (who had bought 24% of the airline in 2013) and Hinduja Group, who previously expressed interest.
Neither of the groups showed any interest in bailing out the carrier, sending the airline into bankruptcy proceedings in June. Since July, the airline has been inviting Expression of Interests (EoI) from investors. While many groups have shown interest, few actually submitted bids, and none offered the required resolution plan.
VT-TGF, our latest Boeing 737-800NG, in Vistara colours. Our entire 737 fleet will get the full Vistara livery one by one starting in July (including a standard full white belly instead of the blue-grey). pic.twitter.com/sZOwyx3EYw
— Vistara (@airvistara) June 15, 2019
Jet Airways’ has seen most of its fleet repossessed by lessors, including its vast fleet of narrowbody 737s. Lessors were eager to lease out Jet’s fleet in light of demand due to the 737 MAX grounding, with carriers like Vistara snapping them up (as seen above by the belly paint). As of this year, the carrier only had 12 aircraft remaining, consisting mainly of its widebody fleet of 777s and A330s and just three 737s.
What led to the demise of the carrier?
By all regards, Jet Airways was one of India’s most respected carriers. As one of two carriers flying long-haul international routes from India, the other being Air India, Jet had made a name for itself with its service. The airline was the preferred choice for business travelers with its vast route network and rewarding JetPrivilige frequent-flier program. The airline became the first to attract foreign investment in itself, with its deal with Etihad Airways in 2013.
In the end, Jet’s balance sheet brought it down. The early 2000s saw the establishment of low-cost carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir. Jet Airways quickly saw its dominant position threatened by the new upstarts. It purchased Air Sahara and renamed to Jet Konnect, in order to compete with the low-cost carriers.
The deal reduced Jet’s available cash and led to financial and legal troubles for the airline. Jet Airways also purchased a mixed fleet of 777s and A330s, but with only a handful of aircraft, the airline faced huge costs for maintenance and resources. The carrier also signed deals for hundreds of more narrowbody aircraft, including for over 200 737 MAXs.
Eventually, the airline leased out most of its widebody fleet and lost considerable market share to the new breed of Indian airlines. The airline operated in losses for years and saw its debt rise considerably.
By 2018, service providers began refusing to service Jet Airways’ planes and the airline started cutting routes to trim costs. In 2019, the path forward for the airline became unclear without a cash infusion. By the time Jet was grounded, creditors claimed over $4.88bn from the airline.
Is this the end of the line?
With no bidders submitting plans to save the airline, it seems that this is the end for Jet Airways. Creditors of the airline are set to meet tomorrow to decide the way forward, which could see the airline shut down and its assets liquidated. Barring a last-second miracle investment by a multi-billion dollar group, we could see the saga of Jet Airways coming to an end as soon as next week.
Tell us what you think about the Jet Airways saga and what the future holds for the airline.