- Grounding of aircraft, advance bookings, cancellations to be discussed
- Jet Airways is struggling to stay afloat amid debt of over $1 billion
- The airline has grounded more than a third of its entire fleet
Here are 10 things to know:
Jet Airways is currently operating only 41 aircraft, just a third of its original fleet, aviation regulator DGCA or Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a statement on Tuesday.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu asked his officials to call for a meeting to discuss grounding of flights, advance bookings, cancellations, refunds, and any potential safety issues, at the cash-strapped carrier. (Also read: Aviation Regulator Reviewing Airfare Hike On Specific Routes, Says Official)
The 25-year-old airline is in talks with its lenders - state-run banks led by State Bank of India (SBI) - and its biggest shareholder, Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad, to secure a rescue deal but talks have dragged on and it is struggling to finalise a plan.
"It is a dynamic situation and there may be further attrition in coming weeks," the aviation regulator said in a statement. Asserting that it is ensuring that all aircraft in the fleet are maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance programme, DGCA said it is "continuously monitoring overall situation and based on the same, will take appropriate steps by the end of the month, if needed."
There are reports that the government has asked state-run banks to bail out Jet Airways for the moment to prevent the airline going bankrupt.
The regulator also said that Jet's pilots, cabin crew and ground staff who have reported any kind of stress should not be put on duty, and the airline should carry out regular maintenance of its aircraft even if they are currently grounded.
In an alarming letter to the DGCA, the Jet Airways aircraft maintenance engineers' association has written that "it has been arduous to meet financial requirements, which has adversely affected the psychological condition of Aircraft Engineers and therefore the safety of public transport airplanes being flown by Jet Airways across India and the world is at risk."
The DGCA said with the current fleet Jet is likely to operate only about 985 flights a week or 140 flights a day - down from an average of about 650 flights a day in March 2018.
In a letter to the airline's pilots on Monday, Naresh Goyal, the founder of the airline, said he would need "a further short time" to finalise a rescue deal for the cash-strapped carrier as the process is complex. Mr Goyal, who transformed Jet into India's biggest full-service carrier from its start 25 years ago, also mentioned ongoing talks for the rescue deal with Etihad Airways, the airline's biggest shareholder, and the group of lenders led by State Bank of India (SBI).
Shares in Jet Airways shed as much as 5 per cent on Tuesday to an intraday low of Rs 225.10 apiece on the BSE, underperforming the broader markets whose benchmark was set to close higher for the seventh consecutive session. The Jet Airways stock has declined 17.5 per cent so far this year.
(With agency inputs)