Jet extends international flight suspension (Roundup)

New Delhi/Mumbai, April 15 (IANS) Troubled Jet Airways' board will meet on Tuesday to chalk out future course of action after the airline failed to get emergency funding from lenders on Monday.

Awaiting outcome of lenders' meet with the government, the cash-starved airline has extended cancellation of international flights till April 18 (Thursday). On Friday, it suspended all international operations till April 15 (Monday).

The airline's CEO Vinay Dube wrote to staff saying the management would seek guidance from the board on the next steps.

In his message to employees, Dube said the airline has been working with lenders to secure interim funding for its operations. "The interim funding has not been forthcoming thus far and as a result of which we have extended cancellation of international operations through Thursday, April 19," he wrote. "We will keep you updated on all critical developments," he added.

Late on Monday evening, the SBI that leads the consortium of Jet's lenders said merchant banker SBI Caps' legal team was working on the expressions of interest (EoIs) received from investors, and bidders will be selected soon.

"The proposed equity conversion by banks, if any, will be undertaken as a transitory mechanism to facilitate the bidding-cum-sale process," the State Bank of India (SBI) said in a statement.

The SBI Caps is acting on behalf of the group of lenders as part of the bank-led resolution process. Necessary support to facilitate the process is being extended by other banks in the consortium. "Cooperation and support from all other stakeholders will be the key to success of the process," SBI said.

The development assumes significance as the airline has almost run out of funds to pay for fuel and other operational expenses.

It has folded up most operations due to grounding of over 80 per cent of its fleet by lessors, and is running just 7 aircraft, barely enough to save its air operating permit (AOP).

Industry insiders say fuel supply is expected to run out on Tuesday afternoon as fresh payments would be required for vendors. Without extra funds the airline may temporarily suspend operations.

Even the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has started giving its slots to other carriers suggesting Jet's closure is just a matter of time.

Jet's woes has intensified as the airline that once operated around 120 aircraft is now left with just 16-plane fleet.

It owes over Rs 8,000 crore to the SBI-led consortium of lenders. Its only ray of hope is an immediate injection of interim funding and the completion of the stake sale process, initiated by lenders.

--IANS
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