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This article is more than 2 year old.

Jason Unsworth, who seeks to buy Jet Airways, in talks with potential investors to finance the deal

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As lenders shortlisted Etihad Airways, NIIF, TPG Capital and Indigo Partners to revive Jet Airways, an unknown British entrepreneur has shown interest in taking over the struggling airline. Meet Jason Unsworth, the founder and CEO of Atmosphere Intercontinental Airline, who claimed to have submitted a bid for Jet Airways.

Jason Unsworth, who seeks to buy Jet Airways, in talks with potential investors to finance the deal
As lenders shortlisted Etihad Airways, NIIF, TPG Capital and Indigo Partners to revive Jet Airways, an unknown British entrepreneur has shown interest in taking over the struggling airline. Meet Jason Unsworth, the founder and CEO of Atmosphere Intercontinental Airline, who claimed to have submitted a bid for Jet Airways. Interestingly, Unsworth is not new to the airline business. He had worked as cabin crew at Ryanair Airline, passenger service agent at Servisair and Swissport and as a passenger service agent at Jet2.com where he assisted guests with check-ins and baggage drops until 2018. According to Unsworth, he is in talks with some big potential investors to finance the Jet Airways deal.
Edited Excerpts:
Q: If you could start by introducing yourself and the business that you are in currently?
A: I have been starting an airline over the past four years now in the UK. We have registered the airline in 2017 and since then, we have been looking for interested investors, airlines and aviation companies to work with.
We believe that we can try to save Jet Airways. We can save some cost on their operations and try to help resume the operations in the coming weeks. Just yesterday I contacted Vinay Dube and he gave me a positive response. I would like to have the opportunity to become a shareholder or even possibly a controlling shareholder as I sort of have faith in the airline and I have witnessed the employees, where they come together to demonstrate the professional aspect of the airlines and they have inspired people and everyone to sort of what Jet Airways is. I believe that it is worth putting time and effort into Jet Airways in order to make it become a leading airline. I believe in the premium product and I strongly believe this is why many of the low-cost airlines have been failing as they are charging too less, the ticket price is not enough to keep an airline flying and let alone make a profit. So, I have a strong business plan for the premium product, some great talent and we hope to make a difference.
Q: I have some specific questions if you could respond to them. Firstly, why Jet Airways and what is your turnaround plan for Jet Airways very briefly
A: Basically, we would like to resume the operations firstly.
On the long-term, we would like to rebrand it.
Also, rename the airline that is going to promote it in the correct format, to get investors, lenders, the airline industry and the public’s trust and the faith in the airline again.
Q: The lenders to Jet Airways had invited expressions of interest (EoI) from interested suitors to submit their EoIs by April 12, did you participate in that process?
A: Yes, I wrote a letter on March 26 addressed to Jet Airways board, staff, Etihad and State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Theresa May. I addressed the same letter to all of them and I sent this directly to their email addresses and published it on my LinkedIn profile as well.
Q: Have the bankers reached out to you. Did they say anything about your interest in acquiring Jet Airways?
A: Just two nights ago, I had some very big potential investors contacted me with interest. Obviously, I do not want to disclose who they are at this point of time as I do not want to jeopardize any deals that I could potentially obtain. I am confident that I can get the financial backing and bring fresh finance into the company as long as SBI and the other lenders agree to participate to what they originally agreed with as well in terms of funding and turn debt to equity for Jet and pay salaries. However, I am confident that we can find fresh funding for Jet Airways along with our startup as well.
Q: What I wanted to understand is if you have submitted an expression of interest, why were you not shortlisted by the lenders to Jet Airways as one of the potential suitors?
A: I didn’t have a proper contact for State Bank of India so it might be that they didn’t receive it or maybe it just didn’t get passed on or potentially a wrong email address or something like this.
Q: Have you now rectified that and reached out to SBICAP that is conducting this process?
A:
I have many individuals from Jet Airways connecting me now with SBI. So, I am hoping for a proper contact, email or phone number for the right person in the SBI.
Q: You said you also reached out to Vinay Dube, CEO of Jet Airways. What was that conversation and what is his response?
A: He responded to me in an email yesterday morning and it was positive. He said thank you for appreciating help and offer. He has attached an email with a senior analyst of Jet Airways who will provide more information on the current situation in terms of aircraft fleet, which they own and some information for that company to do due diligence on them and just see what is left of the company and what current financial situation actually is.
Q: Given that currently, the process of sale is on, there are four shortlisted suitors, you are not one of them. Assuming lenders do allow you to place a bid, what would you be able to offer at this point of time with no secured investments? How much money, how much conversion, how much debt would you be able to take on?
A: My offer is to take a controlling share if possible and as soon as the funding is secured, which I believe is in the very near future, I would lay down a formal offer of investment in the airline. I would also check to see what the other lenders will participate in deciding that offer. I obviously will put a financial offer down on the table and hope that it gets accepted.
Q: Jet Airways has substantial debt on their books. How much of that would you be able to absorb and if could quantify what sort of investment you are talking about in the airline?
A: I am seeking a total of $800 million in all. The size of our business plan is probably a lot bigger than people first thought and this is why our interest is strong with Jet Airways as they have 124 aircrafts in service, this is the size of an airline we have been looking at forming or acquiring in the long run to make a difference in the aviation industry as a whole. This is why Jet Airways is sort of ideal solution for us to take on, rebrand, restructure and put funds into.
We believe that along with fresh financing, the lenders will participate as they will have more security from us in financing them. I hope it will bring fresh hope and fresh ideas into the equation that haven’t been thought of yet.
I sort of understand from the staff and passengers that the airline has a history of 25 years and it would be a shame to see the airline fail as it has such value in other ways, that is through its staff and the people that have worked to make the airline what it is today.
Q: Could you briefly tell us what experience in the aviation sector specifically for the Indian market. I have to go through your LinkedIn profile, you have been in Wal-Mart, you have been in Lion Air, Swissport, but what experience do you have of the Indian aviation sector?
A: I have followed the organisation on the news and I have many talents from India in our team from the very beginning, four years ago. I had people joined the company from all regions of India and I believe that their talent will hugely benefit us in taking over Jet Airways.
I have worked for many domestic and foreign airlines in the UK and I believe this will bring strength in restructuring it.
Q: Since you wrote that letter on March 26, which was also addressed to SBI, one of the lead lenders to Jet Airways, has there been any conversations since with any of the bankers involved that have exposure to Jet Airways that gives you the confidence that your bid would be put at par with the other four suitors and considered at all?
A: I haven’t received a response from them yet. As I say, I didn’t have a direct contact for them. Firstly, my initial thought was to send the email to Jet Airways staff and Etihad and then I sent the letter to SBI. I think the response will be positive and I believe we have had a positive response from CEO Vinay Dube. We have had altercations from Jet Airways staff and now we are receiving one after the another in our email inbox and I strongly believe that SBI will discuss it with senior management at Jet Airways and I think it will be considered.
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