India’s civil aviation regulator on Wednesday said that passenger carrier Jet Airways now operates a fleet of 28 aircraft.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) clarification came after several media reports cited that the airline was operating 15 or less aircraft, which would have made it ineligible to operate international flights.
“As informed to the regulator (DGCA), the airline is operating a curtailed schedule with the sufficient number of aircraft, and is compliant with the applicable guidelines,” Jet Airways said in a statement.
The confusion regarding Jet’s operational fleet arose after the airline on Tuesday informed the stock exchanges that it has grounded 15 more aircraft due to non-payment to lessors.
“Jet Airways continues to fly 28 aircraft as on date. The 15 aircraft reported has already been accounted for and was only informed to the stock exchange by Jet Airways yesterday,” the DGCA said.
Industry sources have said that banks are expected to infuse the first tranche of Rs 1,500 crore into the cash-strapped airline within one or two days, which is expected to ease the current situation.
Last month, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had said that nearly 80 per cent of Jet’s fleet was likely to be back in operation by the end of April as it would re-induct 40 aircraft by April-end.
A total of 75 aircraft are envisaged by April-end which is around 80 per cent of the Jet’s total aircraft previously, he had said.
On March 25, Jet Airways promoter and Chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down from the board of the airline and ceded majority control to the State Bank of India-led consortium.
Under the plan, the lenders would inject up to Rs 1,500 crore working capital into the airline and convert their debt into equity, and try to revive Jet Airways and sell it by June.
The airline owes over Rs 8,000 crore to the lenders led by the SBI.
Under the lenders-initiated resolution plan, the airline will leverage the funding to partly clear pending dues towards the lessors, vendors, creditors and employees in a phased manner.
Jet Airways has been struggling with cash flows for the past six months because of rising fuel costs and intense competition. It has even delayed payment to lessors, airport operators and oil marketing companies besides a part of its workforce to keep the company running.
Around 50 of its aircraft were grounded due to inability to pay rentals. Its pilots and certain sections of the employees have been without pay for some months, leading to the pilots issuing an ultimatum to the erstwhile management on salary payment.
The SBI expects Jet to find a new financial investor by the first quarter of the current fiscal.