Jet Airways gears up to restore suspended flights

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Plans to re-induct 1-2 planes daily

A day after its lenders agreed to sanction a fresh loan of ₹1,500 crore, Jet Airways kick-started a plan to get its grounded flights back on track.

The entire fleet of over 100 aircraft, most of which is grounded due to various reasons, is expected to become operational in three to four weeks in a phased manner, airline officials said.

Though the money is yet to transferred to Jet’s accounts, the airline, as a first step, has decided to restore more than 50 domestic flights which were suspended for April.

“We are restoring these flights immediately and bookings can be made for these flights,” an airline official said. The airline has also decided to re-open four domestic stations which did not receive a single flight in the past few weeks as lessors insisted on grounding of the planes due to non-payment of dues. These stations include Bhopal, Mangaluru and Bhuj. “These stations were open, but there was not a single flight. Now we are re-opening these,”the official said.

Due process

“We can’t deploy the whole fleet instantly. Due procedure has to be followed to get the grounded planes back into deployment. Our plan is to re-induct one or two planes every day to achieve normalcy,” the official added.

To begin with, the airline will give priority to high-density sectors. In the summer schedule starting April, the airline will try to restore most of its flights.

“An airline’s assets are the network it has, the landing slots it is allotted, the flights it operates and the market share it commands. These are critical for the turnaround and Jet must restore them at the earliest possible,” Jitender Bhargava, former executive director, Air India, and author of the book ‘The Descent of Air India’, said.

So, to make the airline attractive for prospective investors, lenders are also in favour of getting all the planes off the ground. Out of the 50-odd planes grounded by lessors for non-payment of lease rentals, about six have been flown out and the rest can be back in action soon.

The fresh loan will help pay the wages, clear some dues to lessors and make part payments to vendors.

The threat of the pilots’ strike has fizzled out as they are expected to get most part of their dues. They have been only paid 12.5% of December salary. Salaries for January, February and March are due.

The Jet stock rose 6.48% to ₹271 on the BSE.

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