Even as the wait continues for the banks-led resolution plan to ease its liquidity crunch, operational headaches are increasing for Jet Airways. The airline may be forced to ground 42 of its aircraft, almost one-third of its fleet of 123 planes, by the end of month.
Sources told Moneycontrol that 28 aircraft have already been taken off service. By the end of February, 14 more aircraft will be grounded, said an executive from the industry.
“Many of the 14 aircraft are grounded due to lack of spare parts,” said the source. Another executive added that the company may ground more of its Max aircraft by February 27.
The airline’s fleet includes 18 ATRs, 5 Boeing 737 Max and 71 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The grounding comes even as State Bank of India is set to meet Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal and top executives of Etihad Airways in Mumbai on Wednesday. Etihad owns 24 percent in the Indian airline.
Jet Airways had tried to lease or sell some of its owned aircraft to raise money that could help pare its over Rs 8,000-crore debt. But the plans, including a wet leasing deal with TruJet for its ATRs, got stuck.
Many of the aircraft have also been grounded due to non-payments of dues to the lessors. On February 23, Jet Airways announced that an additional two aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment, apart from the four that the company had already disclosed.
But industry executives said that the actual number was far higher.
Responding to Moneyontrol’s questions, a Jet Airways spokesperson disputed the number of aircraft grounded, and reiterated that some of the ATRs and Max aircraft continue to operate. But the spokesperson didn’t specify how many of the planes were grounded.
“Jet Airways also continues to be actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors, providing them regular updates on its efforts to improve liquidity. Our aircraft lessors have been supportive of the Company’s efforts in this regard,” said the spokesperson.
He added that the airline is taking “proactive steps to minimise inconvenience to its guests and avoid disruption to its network.”
The airline, he said, is “undertaking suitable adjustments to its schedule, as required, and informing its guests well-in-time with appropriate choices of re-accommodation on alternate flights in line with established regulations. Nonetheless, the airline does apologise to its guests for the inconvenience that these interim adjustments may cause to some of them.”