Jet Airways disappears from Indian skies

Jet Airways planes on the tarmac at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi on April 13.

The death certificate is not yet signed, but the patient is in a state of clinical death. On Wednesday April 17, the Indian company Jet Airways flew its last plane between Amritsar and Bombay. Shortly after, the company’s CEO, Vinay Dube, sent an email to his customers enrolled in the Jet Privilege loyalty program with the news: “It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the immediate suspension of all Jet Airways domestic and international flights. »

During the day, the management had tried to extract from its creditors emergency aid of 9.83 billion rupees (125 million euros), so that the firm could continue its activities with its last five planes available, on a fleet which numbered one hundred and twenty-four four months ago. Lenders said « no », considering that it does not have the guarantee of the reimbursement of this sum within a reasonable time, while the company already carries a debt of 85 billion rupees.

In the immediate future, 16,500 employees find themselves on technical unemployment, including several hundred pilots who have agreed to fly without receiving their salary since November. The alternative that now emerges is simple. The first possibility is that an investor decides to take over Jet Airways within the framework of the sale process opened on April 8 by the banks.

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Soaring prices among competitors

On Monday, they validated the candidacy of Etihad, the Abu Dhabi company which owns 24% of Jet Airways, as well as those of the Indian sovereign wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and American investment funds TPG Capital and Indigo Partners. These four investors have until the end of April to file an offer in due form.

The second possibility is that Jet Airways declares bankruptcy and places itself under the protection of the bankruptcy law. In the meantime, the disappearance of India’s second largest air carrier, which held 14% market share in 2018, is causing prices to soar among its competitors. Online travel agencies point out that fares have risen by 20% for domestic flights since the beginning of April and that if no action is taken quickly to fill the void created by this mishap in the Indian skies, the increase could reach up to at 40%.

On international flights, it is worse. For example, a Bombay-Paris within eight days currently costs nearly 2,200 euros on the only direct flight remaining provided by Air France, against… 700 euros usually.

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