NEW DELHI: India’s debt-laden Jet Airways has grounded seven more planes after failing to pay for its aircraft leases, heaping pressure on its founder as a ballooning crisis threatens its survival.
The beleaguered airline, gasping under debts of more than $1 billion, had grounded six planes earlier this week, and is also facing the threat of strike action over salary payments. In a statement late Friday announcing the latest groundings, the airline said it was “making all efforts to minimise disruption to its network ... and is proactively informing and re-accommodating its affected guests”.
The Mumbai-based airline has now been left with just a quarter of its fleet of 119 aircraft in operation. The airline, India’s number two carrier by market share, says it has been badly hit by fluctuating global crude prices, a weak rupee and fierce competition from budget rivals.
In February, it secured a $1.19 billion bailout from lenders including State Bank of India to bridge a funding gap. But the crisis has since deepened due to a stalemate in talks between Jet founder Naresh Goyal and the airline’s other major stakeholder, Etihad Airline.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2019.
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