On 17th April 2019, Jet Airways suspended all flight operations as they had been unable to secure loans from lenders. They were suffering huge losses. In the first nine months of FY 2018-2019, the company had suffered losses amounting to a mammoth Rs. 3000 crore.
It was a dark and gloomy chapter in the history of Indian aviation and founder Naresh Goyal expressed remorse. “I feel sad and deeply distressed mainly for our loyal employees who have waited months and were anxiously and hopefully awaiting a positive outcome to the Bank Led Resolution Plan. I can only hope and pray that even now a solution can emerge and Jet can fly and fulfill the needs not only of employees but of air travellers who feel the absence of the joy of flying,” he said in a statement.
A few years later, the airline's new promoters Jalan-Kalrock consortium have announced Jet Airways’ return. They plan to resume operations by first quarter of 2022 and already have 150 people on their payroll.
“We received NCLT approval in June 2021, and since then we have been working closely with all concerned authorities to get the airline back in the skies. Jet Airways 2.0 aims at restarting domestic operations by Q1-2022, and short haul international operations by Q3-Q4 2022. Our plan is to have 50+ aircraft in 3 years and 100+ in 5 years,” Murari Lal Jalan, lead member of the Jalan Kalrock Consortium was quoted as saying by The Times Of India.
According to aviation experts, Jet Airways 2.0 will create stiff competition for other airlines like IndiGo, Spicejet and Vistara. They have shifted their headquarters to Gurugram but will continue to have a major presence in Mumbai.
For sure, there’ll be several challenges on the road for the company. A lot of airports are already operating at full capacity and it’ll be tough to find parking space. They don’t have a ready fleet either. Also, despite the Covid-19 vaccination drive picking up pace, there is still a possibility of a third wave.
The biggest headache for them though will be the pending salaries of ex-employees. The Jalan Kalrock Consortium has offered everyone a settlement of Rs. 23,000 but it has been rejected. They owe employees a total of Rs. 1,265 crore but they are willing to pay just Rs. 52 crore.
Even Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa Airlines will enter the market with extremely low fares. It remains to be seen if Jet Airways can cross all these hurdles. We feel that it is too soon to comment on their plans as a lot of things will become clearer in the months to come.