Wednesday, July 06, 2022

How the Ukraine war may give wings to Jet airways' international plans

New Delhi: Jet Airways is looking to lease around 20 Airbus A320 aircraft from lessors by 2024 as it aims to restart operations and fly international routes in the next one-and-a-half years.

Jet's A320 aircraft fleet, according to sources, will be a mix of the Ceo and the more fuel-efficient Neo variants. These planes were originally intended for Russian airlines but could not be delivered following western sanctions on Russia over its Ukraine invasion.

As many as 8-10 aircraft are likely to be delivered by December 2022, the sources said.

In its previous avatar, Jet Airways primarily flew the Boeing 737 variant.

Jet Airways shut operations in April 2019 after getting under a pile of debt and refusal from bankers for any fresh funding.

The availability of the A320 family aircraft in multiple variants, including the 321 and 321 XLR, is one reason why the airline is opting for Airbus’ popular single-aisle variant over the Boeing 737 Max.

“Due to certain global conditions, there are some aircraft which have become available with lessors,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, CEO of Jet Airways, without commenting on the aircraft type. “We are yet to make a decision on our fleet plan but intend to ramp up operations fast and want to fly international routes by 2024 which means we will have at least 21 aircraft by then.”

Bloomberg reported that the airline is close to signing an order with Airbus for aircraft but Kapoor said that delivery slots for the new order book will not be available before 2024. “Whatever scaling up we have to do in the first two years will be from leased aircraft,” he said, adding the airline was yet to finalise the order.

Kapoor was the chief strategy and commercial officer at Vistara, and oversaw strategy, marketing, and network planning and expects that the airline will have its first flight during September. If that happens, Jet Airways will be the first bankrupt airline that will be revived following the Insolvency process.

Last June, the NCLT cleared the consortium's plan to revive Jet Airways by the UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan.

However, several appeals were filed before the NCLAT challenging the order by employees and workmen of Jet Airways, Punjab National Bank, TLD MEAI FZE, and Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association. The tribunal is slated to hear the case on July 5.

A few lessors with whom Business Standard spoke said that they were unsure of starting a business with Jet Airways due to confusion over the applicability of the NCLT ruling that the airline's previous dues getting waived off under India's bankruptcy laws in territories outside India.

Kapoor said that while there have been questions raised, lessors and aircraft manufacturers are comfortable doing business with the airline “In every discussion, we have explained to lessors and vendors that it is new management. This is not the management responsible for the past and we should be viewed as a new entity,” he said.

Airline executives are also now showing interest to work with Jet Airways as there is a certainty now over the resumption of operations, with many from rival airlines joining the team.

06/07/22 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

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