The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Civil Aviation Secretary called for an urgent meeting on Jet Airways with Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, according to sources. Government officials had expressed concern about the loss of jobs at the airline and on the prospect of higher airfares if Jet Airways collapses.
The move comes after Union Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday directed Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to review issues concerning Jet Airways, which has been operating with less than 10 planes. “Directed Secretary MoCA to review issues related to Jet Airways. Asked him to take necessary steps to minimise passenger inconvenience and ensure their safety,” Mr Prabhu tweeted this morning.
The airline on Friday also announced the suspension of its international flights till Monday. The government rules call for an airline to have at least 20 planes for operating international operations.
The deadline for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) for Jet Airways also closed on Friday. The group of Jet Airways’ lenders, led by State Bank of India (SBI), have been seeking a new investor to take a stake of up to 75 per cent in the airline. Initial bids were to be submitted by the end of Wednesday, but SBI had extended the deadline to Friday.
The crisis-hit carrier has been forced to ground more than 80 per cent of its fleet over unpaid dues to leasing companies, pushing it to the brink of shutdown and jeopardising hopes of a new investor rescuing the carrier.
On Wednesday, Indian Oil, for the second time, had halted supply of fuel to Jet Airways for a few hours over non-payment of dues. The National Aviator’s Guild had also served a legal notice to the management of the airline over delays in the payment of salary.