Friday, March 15, 2019

SpiceJet to get two wet lease planes by Saturday; no restriction on Jet's forward booking

New Delhi: Spot airfares have sharply risen with the full effect of SpiceJet’s 12 Boeing 737 Max grounding being felt on Thursday. While the airline claimed about 35 of its daily flights will be affected, sources say the number could be much higher. Aviation authorities say the number of flights actually cancelled may be available only on Friday.

SpiceJet sources say it has increased utilisation of its 64 planes that include Boeing 737 (not Max but new generation or NG) and turboprop Bombardier by mounting additional frequencies on them. SpiceJet’s Delhi-Kabul flight is cancelled due to Pakistan airspace closure. The B737 used on that route is now being used for domestic flights and two wet leased planes (hired with operating crew) are likely to start flying by Saturday.

Meanwhile, SpiceJet and aviation authorities, including Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), denied reports of the airline flying the B737 Max after the deadline of 4 pm on Wednesday. “Our last ferry flight (without passengers) landed at Ahmedabad from Mumbai at 3.50 pm on Wednesday. No aircraft was airborne after 4 pm,” said a SpiceJet spokesman.

About Jet Airways, a senior DGCA official said there was no move to limit the forward ticket sale period of the airline. Jet has grounded almost half its fleet and is awaiting infusion of funds from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad which has 24% stake in it. Jet had asked Etihad to infuse Rs 750 crore this week as emergency fund, something that has not happened. Jet had warned the airline may be grounded if that funding does not come.

Etihad itself is not in good financial condition. It has lost $1.28 billion in 2018, slightly less than the $1.52 billion loss in 2017. Since 2016, Etihad has in all lost $4.75 billion. Whether it can in this condition give bailout funds to Jet remains to be seen.
14/03/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India