Jet's would-be owners push start of operations to July; pending cases indicate further delay

Jet Airways’ potential new owners want to start operating the airline by July, four months after they had originally planned for it to resume operations. But with close to 40 pending cases in India’s bankruptcy court against the carrier, it may stretch much longer said industry insiders.

The consortium of London-based investor Kalrock Capital and Gulf-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan had in October 2020 got approval for its resolution plan to revive the grounded airline. In December, it said it wanted to resume Jet’s flights in the summer of 2021. Jet is undergoing an insolvency case at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The court is yet to approve the resolution plan.

“I am sure we will be able to fly….may not be in the summer schedule…maybe sometime in the end of June or July,” Jalan told ET in an interview.

“But it also depends on when NCLT gives its approval, when the places arrive…there are also a lot of regulatory issues we have to go through,” he added.

“Any resolution plan is not fruitful unless it obtains required approval, without which all efforts and energy go waste,” said a senior executive from an advisory firm.

As much as 40 cases are pending against the

. Unless those get cleared the NCLT is unlikely to give a green signal to the resolution plan. Stakeholders are now burning midnight oil to resolve those matters first, a precursor for the court approval.

The cases include at least three applications from different segments of the employees-pilots, cabin crew, engineers– who want to see a copy of the resolution plan before it is approved by the NCLT. One application is against a partial salary payout to some employees, who aren’t in the category of workmen, the first segment entitled to salary arrears, said Sanjay Singhvi, senior counsel representing the Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association, a lobbying body of the airline’s engineers.

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In June, the NCLT allowed Jet to sell real estate at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) area in suburban Mumbai to settle Rs 360 crore worth of debt to HDFC and to cover expenses of the insolvency proceedings. There is an application saying part of the funds should have been used to clear salary arrears.

“Not all the cases stand against the approval to the resolution plan…indeed some will become infructuous once the plan is approved. But all cases have to be resolved,” said a person close to the know.

Also, there may be additional cases even after the plan is approved.

“We don’t even know what the plan is. The NCLT has kept the matter for passing orders on our applications on Monday, & then hopefully will start the hearing on approval of the resolution plan. The workmen will hopefully be part of these proceedings. Alternatively, we may only come to know of the details of the plan after it is approved. If employees don’t get justice in the Plan(in terms of employment and past dues) , they will have to appeal against it” said Jane Cox, who is representing Jet’s pilots.

In the interview, Jalan said the consortium has settled for Rs 1,200 crore with Jet’s committee of creditors. Additionally it plans to invest Rs 700-800 crore to run the airline in the first year. By the end of the first year of operations, the consortium aims for the airline to have 25 freshly leased planes including widebodied aircraft, in its fleet, he said.

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The consortium has as yet applied to the government for security clearance and an approval for its corporate structure for Jet, said one of the people cited above. It has yet to apply for the flight slots that were allocated to other airlines after Jet stopped flying in April 2019.



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