After nearly two years of uncertainty, we now know the future of Jet Airways’ slots. The DGCA yesterday said that Jet Airways is not entitled to its previous slots, leaving the carrier starting afresh. The decision could hamper the airline’s rescue plan, which relied in part to restart key business routes previously served by Jet.
In a huge blow to Jet Airways’ future, India’s aviation regulator told the bankruptcy court today that the airline won’t receive its historical slots once it restarts operations, according to Business Standard. The question of slots has been hanging over the airline’s rescue plans since 2019, and the lack of clarity has even resulted in bidders pulling out.
However, there is a clear answer now, and it’s not good for Jet Airways. Before its collapse, Jet Airways was India’s second-largest airline and had a commanding presence in Mumbai (its hub), Delhi, and Bangalore. These slots were extremely valuable due to the limited capacity at these airports.
In an affidavit before the court, the DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation said,
“There can’t be any automatic revival of approvals granted to Jet airways and reinstatement of slots, which were with Jet airways and the same would be as per the extant guidelines and regulations…In view of this, though the allocation of slots to such airlines is temporary the same can’t be withdrawn from them without any legitimate basis.”
Jet Airways’ slots were always its most valuable assets and crucial to its rescue. Indeed, the winners of the Jet Airways bid, the Kalrock-Jalan consortium, were under the impression that they would be able to reclaim key slots in domestic airports across India. However, the government has dashed any such hopes this week.
The lack of clarity over Jet’s slots has been a hindrance to the rescue process since the beginning. While the government had reallotted the slots on a temporary basis to ensure connectivity is maintained in light of Jet’s collapse, their future status was never confirmed. As time passed, the issue only became more challenging to resolve.
In a final blow to any efforts of reclaiming Jet’s old airport slots, the government said in its affidavit,
“However, as and when the Jet Airways applies for slots then the slots would be allocated among all the airlines without any claim of historicity in favour of any airline over these slots and such allocation of slots would be as per the Slot Allocation Guidelines, 2013.”
Not the end
The Karlrock-Jalan consortium has come out against the decision, saying that they were led to believe by the government that Jet would receive its slots. However, it’s unlikely anything will change. Jet’s historical slots have new operators and any efforts to pry them away with cause damage to the market.
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The owners of Jet Airways will have to reassess their plans. However, this doesn’t have to be the end. Considering Jet Airways 2.0 is planning to start with a small, narrowbody fleet, it could receive some slots through the standard allocation route as well. For now, keep an eye out for the future of Jet Airways.
What do you think about the government’s decision to revoke Jet Airways’ slots? Let us know in the comments!