Jet Airways can return to the skies as early as in six months, Dubai-based entrepreneur leading the efforts to save the airline Murari Lal Jalan told NDTV on Monday, bolstering hope for one of the biggest turnarounds in the aviation industry anywhere.
"I am expecting to fly Jet Airways in the next six months, which is dependent on NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal - the country's bankruptcy court) clearance," Mr Jalan said.
"Once NCLT clearance is done, there will not be any hurdle. We are hoping to be done very, very soon. It is very important to have routes that Jet used to have. And, as a full-fledged airline, we have a lot of corporate," he added.
Late last year, a consortium led by Mr Jalan and London-based Kalrock Capital that took over the ailing airline, which halted operations in April 2019 following bankruptcy because of a mountain of debt, had announced a revival plan.
The plan included a dedicated freighter service and hubs in small Indian cities beyond Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
Mr Jalan on Monday told NDTV said the airline can return to its pre-pandemic scale of operations in five years.
"We are going to start with 25 aircraft this year and then to 125 aircraft in five years which is the number we had before the pandemic. We are going to use new [aircraft]. Post NCLT clearance, we will inspect our aircraft on what should be done," he said.
Asked whether Jet 2.0 will hire back the scores of pilots and staff laid off, he said, "My team is working on this. We want them to come back, as many as we can. It depends on the number of aircraft, routes, slots, where we are going to fly, when we are going to fly."
"Our cost and liability are going to be among the lowest of any of the airlines in the world. Our situation is going to be different. We don't have any liabilities," Mr Jalan said.
"There's still lots of space left in India. In India, we only have 600 aircraft. If we compare ourselves to any country, we still have a lot of space. There's a lot of opportunity. I am confident that there's scope for everyone," he said on his reading of the Indian aviation industry.
Once the country's largest airline by market capitalisation, Jet Airways plans to operate all its historic domestic slots in the country and also resume international operations as part of the revival strategy.
The plan comes at a time when many of the world's airlines are struggling to recover from a COVID-19-caused slowdown, which sent the aviation market into a tailspin, forcing many airlines to shut operations.
The airline's creditors have already approved the strategy, which was submitted by the consortium in October. Jet Airways has almost 21,000 creditors seeking claims of Rs 44,000 crore, and has had most of its landing slots confiscated.