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Jet Airways crisis: Timeline of events that led to founder-chairman Naresh Goyal's exit from airline's board

As Jet Airways founder and chairman Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita quit the airline's board and halved their stake to 25.5 percent from 51 percent, decks have been cleared for implementing the resolution plan for the crisis-hit airline.

The 25-year-old Jet Airways, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 8,200 crore, has been caught in a slew of issues including delayed payments to banks, suppliers and aircraft lessors besides payment to pilots and engineering staff.

The crisis has almost crippled the operations of the airline, which was forced to ground most of its aircraft due to non-payment of rent to the lessors. Besides, another trouble was looming after its pilots threatened to strike work from 1 April, if their salary dues were not cleared by 31 March.

As the airline was looking for more funds to keep it afloat, its strategic partner Etihad Airways, which now holds 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, indicated that it was not keen to infuse more funds into the debt-laden carrier unless the lenders offered a guarantee.

Curtailing flights operations

On Friday, Jet Airways suspended operations on as many as 13 more international routes till end-April even as it grounded seven more planes due to non-payment of rentals, taking the number of such aircraft to 54, said a PTI report.

 Jet Airways crisis: Timeline of events that led to founder-chairman Naresh Goyals exit from airlines board

A file image of Jet Airways' promoter Naresh Goyal. AFP

Besides, the airline has also reduced frequencies on seven other overseas routes, mostly from Delhi and Mumbai, according to sources. Jet Airways has already suspended services on the Mumbai-Manchester route.

Gasping for funds and no bailout on the horizon, the Goyal-controlled airline has now reduced its operations to one-fourth from over 600 daily flights earlier, with just one-third of its 119 fleets being operational.

On 18 March, Jet Airways grounded its operations at Abu Dhabi Airport for an indefinite period, citing operational reasons.

Pilots threaten stir, seek govt intervention for salary 

On Thursday, the pilots of the cash-strapped Jet Airways urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu to intervene and instruct the management to release their pending salaries.

While the airline is going through a tough financial phase, all employees except for pilots and engineers are getting paid on time, claimed the National Aviators Guild (NAG) in communication to Modi and Prabhu.

On 19 March, the umbrella body of the domestic pilots of Jet Airways threatened to stop flying from 1 April, if the resolution plan is delayed and salary dues are not cleared by the end of this month.

Rescue plan by state-run banks

The State Bank of India-led consortium of lenders has been working on a resolution plan for the cash-strapped Jet Airways for the last five months.

Lenders of Jet Airways are likely to pick up a substantial stake in the debt-laden airline till a new promoter is roped in, said a PTI report.

The process of getting a new promoter on board is likely to take another two to three months and once that happens, the banks would offload their stakes, sources said.

The lenders are trying to revive the carrier by change in management as they feel collapse of the airline would not be good for consumers as well as competition in the industry. They have also decided against taking the airline through insolvency process.

On 14 February, its board had approved a bank-led-resolution plan, whereby the SBI-consortium of lenders will become the largest shareholders in the airline and Goyal would exit the management as the chairman and board member.

Goyal writes to Jet Airways staff

On 18 March, Goyal sought to reassure the 16,000-strong staff of the efforts to restore the "much-needed stability" in its operations at the earliest.

Goyal, in a communication to employees also said talks with the airline's strategic partner Etihad Airways and SBI-led lenders are going on.

Goyal seeks interim fund of Rs 750 cr from Etihad

On 11 March, Goyal sought urgent funding of Rs 750 crore from its equity partner Etihad, citing "the very precarious" position of the airline following the lingering cash flow issues which got amplified after the forced grounding of over 50 of its planes.

In a letter to the Gulf-based carrier's group chief executive Tony Douglas, Goyal also said the airline has also secured the go-ahead from the aviation ministry to pledge its shares in JetPrivelege for securing the interim funding.

Goyal agrees to exit

On 28 February, Reuters reported that Goyal agreed to step down as chairman of the airline’s board as the cash-strapped Indian carrier inched closer to securing a rescue deal.

In this regard, SBI had called an urgent meeting of lenders with Goyal and the domestic carrier's significant shareholder Douglas to discuss a way forward for the debt-laden airline.

Lessors pull out more planes

On 21 February, international lessors grounded more Jet Airways planes prior to potentially moving them out of India, as scepticism built whether a state-led bailout of the carrier could clear their dues on time, said a Reuters report.

Nine of Jet Airways’ planes were grounded by lessors, versus the four it reported in January, with AerCap Holdings NV and BOC Aviation Ltd among those who have pulled out planes, sources told Reuters.

Jet Airways logs net loss of Rs 588 cr in December quarter

On 14 February, Jet Airways reported a standalone net loss of Rs 587.77 crore for the third quarter ended 31 December. The company had posted a standalone net profit of Rs 165.25 crore in the same quarter previous fiscal, Jet Airways said in a regulatory filing.

The carrier said revenue from operations during the quarter under review stood at Rs 6,147.98 crore as against Rs 6,086.20 crore in the year-ago period.

Qatar Airline CEO rejects stake in Jet Airways

On 15 January, Qatar Airways would not buy a stake in Jet Airways as a substantial portion of the debt-laden Indian carrier is held by Etihad Airways, whose owner Abu Dhabi is an "enemy" of Qatar, its CEO Akbar al-Baker said.

Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that cut ties with Qatar in 2017 over accusations of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have banned Qatar Airways since June, 2017 as part of the dispute.

"We would definitely look at it (Jet Airways) if a 24 percent stake was not held by Etihad," al-Baker told Reuters on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Mumbai. "How can I take a stake in an airline which is owned by our adversary?”

Goyal's 'turnaround' man Kardassis quits 

In December last year, Nikos Kardassis, the former CEO of Jet Airways, who made a come back to the carrier in an advisory role and was tasked to turnaround the cash-strapped airline, once again parted ways with it, said a PTI report.

The Greek-American aviation veteran in his third come back to the Goyal-controlled Jet Airways in May 2018 was roped-in to revive the fortunes of the full-service carrier following its dismal financial performance since January this year.

Jet Airways sacks employees

In November 2018, Jet Airways as one of the means to reduce cost with the carrier sacked 16 more employees. These employees were working as ground staff in Jet Airway's Kochi and Hyderabad offices, said a PTI report.

In October 2018, the airline had laid off 20 employees, including some senior-level executives from the in-flight services department. Prior to that, it reportedly had asked 15 managerial level employees from various departments including engineering, security and sales, to leave the company.

Jet Airways had been reducing staff since it announced the second consecutive quarterly loss in August. Job cuts stopped in September for a while, but have come back again this month.

Stops free meals in economy class

In September 2018, Jet Airways stopped free meals on its economy class from bookings done from 25 September. The unbundle plan covered the 'Economy Light' and 'Economy Deal' categories in the domestic sector, the airline said, adding, however, flyers will continue to get free beverages, including tea and coffee.

The move came two years after the airline introduced 'Fare Choices,' a flexible, tier-based, fare-choice system that helped flyers customise their travel needs by choosing their preferred fare.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 25, 2019 19:37:54 IST

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