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Jet’s Goyal agrees to step down: Reports Airline grounds six more planes on Thursday over non-payment of lease

March 01, 2019 04:58 AM

courtesy  MIRROR MARCH 1

Jet’s Goyal agrees to step down: Reports
Airline grounds six more planes on Thursday over non-payment of lease
Mumbai Mirror Bureau
TWEETS @MumbaiMirror

Jet Airways’ founder Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as chairman of the airline’s board, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday, as the cash-strapped carrier inches closer to securing a rescue deal.

Eithad, which owns a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, is however reticent to provide interim funding of about Rs 7 billion to Jet Airways, the source said.

Jet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Saddled with a billion dollars in debt, the airline has defaulted on loans and has not paid pilots, leasing firms and suppliers for months.

Lessors have grounded more than a dozen of its planes pending payment of dues.

19 Jet planes grounded

The airline on Thursday grounded six more aircraft, taking the total number of aircrafts due to non-payment of lease for these aircraft to 19.

“We now write to inform you that an additional six aircraft have been frounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements,” Jet Airways said in a regulatory filing late on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, the airline told the stock exchanges it had grounded seven aircrafts. Since January, the airline had informed the exchanges on two occasions informing them that four and two aircrafts had been grounded due to its inability to pay for their leases.

Though Jet Airways, whose market share has dipped from a high of nearly 20 per cent in 2014 to 12.2 per cent in December 2018, officially admitted 19 aircrafts on the ground, aviation expert Ameya Joshi, founder of aviation analysis blog Network Thoughts, told Mirror , “A total of 29 aircrafts of Jet Airways are presently grounded, including all 17 brand new Boeing 737 Max aircrafts.” He said the 29 include 10 smaller 90-seater ATR aircrafts, two wide body aircrafts — a Boeing 77W, and an Airbus 330 which has a capacity to accommodate more than 330 passengers.

Jet Airways had placed an order for 75 737 Max aircraft in 2015, and ordered 75 more in 2018. The first fuel-efficient 737 Max was delivered by Boeing in June 2018. Of 124 aircraft in its fleet, Jet Airways owns only 16, and rest are leased. However, the airline, which has delayed salaries of its pilots prompting a black-band protest, began defaulting on monthly lease rentals, and began grounding aircraft.

The grounding of aircraft comes days after Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal and Etihad Airways CEO Tony Doughlas had said in a joint statement they were confident that the Bank-led Provisional Resolutional Plan (BLPRP) approved by its shareholders in a February 21 meeting, would make the airline viable. — WITH INPUTS BY SATISH NANDGAONKAR

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