Crisis-hit airline Jet Airways could find its saving grace this week as Indian conglomerate Hinduja Group is expected to place a bid for the airline, backed by minority shareholder Etihad Airways and founder Naresh Goyal.
According to reports, the Hinduja Group has fixed a meeting with Etihad Airways on May 23, where discussions will be held in order to revive the airline which is sitting on a debt of over Rs 11,000 crore.
Top executives from SBI, which is the leader of the lenders’ consortium, are also expected to be present during the meeting to be held in the corporate headquarters of Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi.
A source confirmed to financial daily Business Standard that it may possibly be the last attempt by SBI to rescue the grounded airline. If the talk fails this week, it could be curtains for the airline which stopped operations from April 17 due to fund shortage.
Lenders had initially approached many Indian conglomerates to rescue the airline but talks failed to materialize. Tata Group was once such player which showed interest initially but decided against it, according to sources who spoke to media.
Meanwhile, the Hinduja Group would be looking to foray into the airline business with Jet after it had earlier eyed Air India when the state-run carrier floated a privatization bid.
If the deal is not finalized soon, it could be too late for Jet Airways as the airline is consistently losing pilots. The airline has been unable to pay salary to its employees, including pilots for months.
Jet airways also faces risk of losing out its coveted overseas routes as other airlines look to acquire them. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has already allotted some of Jet’s domestic routes to other airlines.
There is a possibility that the overseas routes of the airline will also be distributed on a temporary basis between other airlines in the country. Even if the deal is finalized, it would take some time to get the airline up and running as Jet has completely lost its top management.
Considering Jet’s situation, the bid from Hinduja could very well decide the fate of the airline which once dominated the skies.