Struggling carrier Jet Airways on Tuesday said it has grounded 15 more planes due to non-payment of lease rentals, resulting in a massive decline in its active fleet.
There is no official statement from the aviation regulator or the airline regarding the current count of operational planes but a rough calculation shows its 20.
The development comes a week after the civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said the airline informed the ministry that it has 35 planes in operations and that there would be no further groundings. In fact, the airline was to initiate talks with lessors to reactivate 40 more planes by April-end.
"Jet Airways have told us that they aim to fly 75 planes towards the end of April," Kharola said on March 26 at a press briefing.
As per senior government officials, lessors are providing a notice period of 72 hours or three days before grounding the aircraft on
non-payment of dues. Monthly lease rentals, which are to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore on an average, have not been paid by the company to the lessors for as long as six months, resulting in groundings.
In fact, the airline also released a communication to
pilots on Tuesday asking the Boeing 737 flight crew (the highest fleet size in Jet Airways) to take three days off after working for 5 days, taking into account the current operational requirements. Earlier, the schedule used to be 6 working days followed by 2 days off.
The troubles don't end here. In what could result in dire consequences, all lenders still have not come on board to provide the
interim funding of Rs 1,500 crore to keep the airline afloat.
"SBI was to infuse Rs 530 crore. Remaining Rs 970 crore was to come from other lenders. However, all lenders are yet to reach a consensus on this and there is still no clarity on which ones of these lenders will provide what amount of sum," a person aware of the development told CNBC-TV18 on condition of anonymity.
"Not all lenders are ready to provide more loans to Jet," another source said.A meeting is set to take place on April 4 to decide on how the carrier could raise funds and pay lessors for keeping planes in the air and to pilots and engineers for flying and maintaining those planes.