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Why so many eyes will be fixed on Jet Airways this week

April 15, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Cash-strapped Jet Airways, once India’s second largest airline and still a Qantas codeshare partner, is cancelling flights right, left and centre and is reported to be flying fewer than 10 planes – where it operated a fleet of over 124 aircraft just a few weeks ago.

Last week, passengers travelling on Jet Airways flight 9W321 from Amsterdam to Mumbai were shocked when their flight was cancelled, just as boarding was about to begin. A European cargo services provider seized the plane at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport for non-payment of dues, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, India’s Economic Times reported.

Bloomberg reports that the Mumbai-based carrier’s fleet has shrunk by almost 90%. According to the Press Trust of India, Jet Airways at the weekend had only nine planes operational.

Jet Airways’ website said yesterday:

“Due to operational reasons, our flight schedule has been impacted. We realise that this has affected our guests travel plans and truly regret the inconvenience. We would like to assure you that our customer support teams are working 24×7 to ensure that our guests are re-accommodated on to alternate flights or provided with a full refund.”

Jet Airways has axed flights scheduled to depart from Delhi to Singapore, London, Amsterdam and Kathmandu. CNBC reports that cash problems have forced pilots at the airline to go without salaries for months.

The Qantas.com website, however, says Jet Airways is a codeshare partner.

The Qantas site said yesterday:

“With its first flight in 1993, today Jet Airways is a major Indian airline based in Mumbai. With a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, Jet Airways operate over 3,000 flights daily to 70 destinations, including an extensive Indian domestic network.

 “Did you know that Qantas offers a ‘QF’ flight number+ (codeshare) on selected Jet Airways flights?

 “So when you fly to one of the many destinations that Jet Airways flies to, where possible choose to book on a Qantas (QF) flight number+ to maximise the amount of Qantas Points and Status Credits you’ll earn on eligible flights.”

Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER

 Once India’s biggest airline by market capitalisation, Jet Airways last week suspended its flights between Heathrow and Mumbai and Delhi. A spokesperson for the carrier, which is primarily a domestic operator within India, said: “Jet Airways has cancelled its international operations from 12-15 April, 2019.”

The Independent in London, however, said it made test bookings and found Jet Airways has blocked sales of its flights from Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai up to and including 18 April.

The Independent also reported that Jet Airways had transferred coveted Heathrow slots to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which holds a 24% stake in Jet Airways. Some reports suggest Etihad might be prepared to step in and take a larger stake in Jet Airways, though Etihad has not commented.

In the early 1990s, Jet Airways ended the monopoly of state-run Indian national carrier Air India. More recently, Air India has faced problems of its own – the Indian Government pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into it after an attempt to privatise it failed.

IndiGo and Spice Jet are now India’s market leaders – but the spotlight is very much on Jet Airways, which has been battling its financial crisis since February 2019. Three weeks ago, the carrier’s founder and chairman, Naresh Goyal, stepped down as part of a government-backed bailout. Banks are now trying to overhaul the company and CNBC reports that lenders have extended until later this month a deadline for outside bidders to take a stake of up to 75% in the company.

Bloomberg reported last week that Jet Airways shares fell as much as 1.6% the previous Friday. They had fallen 67% last year.

Written by Peter Needham

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