03 April 2019
New Delhi/Mumbai: As Jet Airways on Wednesday informed employees that salaries for March will be delayed, the troubles for the beleaguered airline seem to be far from over.
"In the light of the current situation, please note that salaries for March 2019 will be deferred. We will provide you an update on the status of the payout by Tuesday, 9 April 2019," said Rahul Taneja, Chief People Officer, Jet Airways, in a communication to employees.
Salaries are pending since January.
While the airline, hard-pressed for funds, is yet to receive the first tranche of the Rs 1,500 crore, promised by banks as part of the debt resolution plan, its fleet size has depleted to 28, employees and lessors remain adamant on clearance of dues, and legal eagles feel the fate of resolution plan hangs in balance.
While industry sources said the first tranche of fund could be expected in a day or two, the situation has become precariously complicated following the Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday to annul a February 12, 2018 Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular on bad debts.
The banks are expected to meet on Thursday to chart out the course of action.
Throughout Wednesday, speculations continued on the number of aircraft that the airline operated, after reports in a section of media that it was operating 15 or less aircraft, which would make it ineligible to operate international flights.
The speculations also stemmed from the airline's disclosure on Tuesday to the bourses that it had grounded 15 more aircraft due to non-payment to lessors. The disclosure also pulled the company's stocks down over 5 per cent to Rs 251.10 per share.
However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) clarified that the carrier was operating a 28-aircraft fleet.
"Jet Airways continues to fly 28 aircraft as on date. The 15 aircraft reported have already been accounted for and this was only informed to the stock exchange by Jet Airways yesterday (Tuesday)," the DGCA said.
Last month, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said nearly 80 per cent (75 aircraft) of Jet's fleet was likely to be back in operation by the end of April as it would re-induct 40 aircraft by then.
On March 25, Jet Airways promoter and Chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down from the board of the airline and ceded majority control to the State Bank of India-led consortium.
Under the debt resolution plan, the lenders would inject up to Rs 1,500 crore working capital into the airline and convert their debt into equity, to revive the airline and sell it by June.
The airline owes over Rs 8,000 crore to lenders, led by the State Bank of India (SBI).
Under the lenders'-initiated resolution plan, the airline will leverage the funding to partly clear pending dues towards the lessors, vendors, creditors and employees in a phased manner.
The SBI also expects the airline to find a new financial investor within the first quarter (April-June) of FY20.
"The management team has been working with lenders and other institutions to finalise a resolution plan, which will help us stabilise operations and build a sustainable future for the airline. However, given the complexities of such processes, it has taken us longer than expected," Taneja said in the communication to employees.
"But please be assured that we continue to strive and are in continuous deliberations with lenders and institutions to find a solution," he said.