Mighty Drowning Airways, Clutching The Straws

Mighty Drowning Airways, Clutching The Straws

  • Reading time:5 mins read

By Pratham Bhardwaj

At the heart of every revival, is the sprit of prayer. The airways flying on a wing and a prayer for over an year now, is finally seeing a ray of hope. Kalrock-led consortium have won the bid for the possible revival of the Jet airways. This could be the first step in a possible turnaround of India’s oldest private airline. A big task lies ahead for the consortium to get the airways back on its feet keeping in ming the resentment of the staff, huge pile of debt, competition from it’s rivals and the unforeseen suture of the aviation industry after the pandemic.

Hard pressed Jet Airways, which hasn’t seen the skies since April, 17, 2019, are finally seeing a ray of hope.  After soliciting funding from Ambani’s to Tata’s, which all turned out to be unsuccessful, it has finally got a winning bidder in Kalrock-led consortium. Kalrock Capital and Murari Lal Jalan are planning to invest $136 million into Jet Airways over the next five years, to aid the airline’s revival with new management and the acquisition of assets. But lenders, who over the years put this amount into the dead airline and spent many sleepless nights over their money, will be still having their dark days going on. But Madnani doesn’t seem worried. “The three words we look at—adaptability, flexibility, and optionality—fitted well in this situation. India is a country of 1.3 billion people with a phenomenal opportunity for tourism. Then, there is also the opportunity in air cargo. We are working with everyone to hit the ground running,” he says. The company obviously has to do a settlement for the creditors which were there before the company shut down and then of course new capital needs to be introduced for the revival of the company.

However, the positive sign for the creditors is that they would get 10 per cent equity in the revamped airline under the resolution plan.

What’s the revival plan?

Kalrock’s plan is to be a full-service airline. They plan to start with domestic airlines, though that would take a lot of courage and efficiency to work upon since their current expansion is only limited to 12 aircrafts, which mostly confine to the international guidelines and not the domestic ones. Not only this, the company will be having a numerous hurdles on it’s path to success, since the aviation industry is in turmoil and their brand value has diminished.

First and foremost, the airline will need to find themselves an efficient management team. The new investors have no experience in managing an aviation company. Also, there is no certainty that ex-employees will return to the airline, and neither is there certainty that they will be absorbed. In terms of human resources, it will be crucial for the investors to bring in a management with experience of running an airline in addition to people necessary for flight operations, such as crew, pilots etc.

Second, they need Aircrafts. From a fleet of 120 aircraft or so, the airline is down to 6. Clearly, if the airline wants to restart as a domestic airline, they will need to go and find them some aircraft. The new Jet Airways will have to work out a lot of things, for instance, the size of the cabin, and their service quality, and will have to work on their loyalty programmes. While there has been some maintenance done on these aircraft, they definitely need work before they are airworthy.

Third, they need slots. Before the airline was grounded , it had prime spots at domestic( Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai) and international(Singapore, Amsterdam, Hongkong) airports.

After shutting down, its slots have been temporarily reallocated to other airlines in the country. When the new airline starts or restarts again with the Jet Airways brand, the idea would be to have more efficiency. The applicants would certainly be looking at modernising their fleet.  There are some plans to bring in more fuel efficient aircraft and maybe trade them off with the older ones but that is purely based on efficiencies that they want to bring in going forward. It will also help that India continues to be one of the most promising aviation markets despite a pandemic-induced slowdown in the sector. The country has already firmed up plans to allow domestic airlines to increase their operations to 75 percent of their capacity. In September, according to rating agency ICRA, the domestic passenger traffic stood at 3.9 million, as against 2.8 million in August 2020, indicating a 37 percent growth. It’s getting ready to take off in six months with an initial fleet of seven aircraft in line with a revival plan as its prospective takeover consortium faces a November 3 deadline to submit a performance security bond of Rs1.5 billion.

As per the resolution plan, Jet Airways will sell its A330 and B737 aircraft and distribute the proceedings among its creditors. The winning bidders are expected to restart Jet’s operations by April 2021, the bankers said on condition of anonymity. The resolution plan now needs approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).