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A day after the exit of founding chairman Naresh Goyal from its board, Jet Airways seems to be in high spirits and has submitted to the government an ambitious plan of flying 75 aircraft from April 26.
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"We met the management of Jet Airways today... all top officials from finance, commercial department, engineering etc were there... they have said that there will be no more groundings and as per their plan, they will fly 40 more planes by the end of April," said civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola after meeting State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar and CEO of Jet Airways Vinay Dube among other officials during the course of the day.
The airline has told the ministry and the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that it will hold negotiations and discussions with its lessors over the next few days to reactivate the grounded fleet.
At present, 54 aircraft of Jet Airways are grounded due to non-payment of lease rentals. The airline's total fleet stands at 119, of which 103 were flying till December, a senior government official said.
"We have told Jet Airways to convince the lessors, we are not part of the financial discussions that the airline has with lenders but we want to ensure that the interim funding is put to optimal use," Kharola added.
Based on this plan, the airline is also reinstating around 50 flights, reconnecting Bhuj, Mangalore, Aurangabad and Bhopal under its network, CNBC-TV18 had reported earlier on Tuesday.
However, the dismal financial and operational health of Jet Airways has acted as the latest trigger in the reduction of capacity from the market, leading to a surge in airfares owing to a huge mismatch between capacity and demand.
"Our concern has been passenger safety... that shouldn't be compromised and passengers shouldn't be put to any undue hardship. There have been instances of the surge in fares on some routes occasionally but we have advised the airlines against predatory pricing and DGCA is also monitoring the fares," Kharola added.
The airline, attempting a comeback, will meet ministry officials next week with details on the exact restoration date of each arcraft with the routes that those aircraft will be serving.
Once clarity emerges on the routes and slots utilisation by Jet as per their aircraft availability plan, the ministry will then hold discussions with other airlines and airport operators to offer the unused slots for an interim period, Kharola said.
While there is no clarity on the composition of the interim committee which will operate Jet Airways in the period till the lenders find a suitable investor by June, officials on Tuesday said that the names are likely to be revealed in a couple of days.
First Published: Mar 26, 2019 8:24 PM IST