From being the second largest domestic airline for years, Jet Airways has seen a fall from grace and has been overtaken by Spice Jet & Air India. Recent data released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows that now, roughly one in nine Indian passengers fly Jet which translates into a 11.4% market share. Just last year same time, roughly one in six passengers flew Jet, which commanded a 16.8% market share.
At its peak, Chairman of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, was among the best known faces in the aviation industry and his name carried some serious weight. But his inability to secure funding when needed, especially in the capital intensive aviation sector, led to the unceremonious decline in the fortunes of his company.
And now, with empty bank accounts, Jet has not paid its pilots and airline staff and has a backlog of approximately ₹ 600 crores in salaries. Another issue, perhaps more pressing, is the fact that Jet’s fleet of aircrafts is down from 119 to just 41 at present as lessors for these aircrafts have started repossessing them for lack of payment.
Matters have become even worse as lenders led by SBI failed to convince Jet’s strategic foreign partner Ethiad Airways to infuse funds into the cash strapped and debt infested airline. In fact, Jet is in such a dire state that the government is looking to give its unutilised slots to other airlines and if sources are to be believed, has even asked low-cost carrier Spice Jet to acquire as many as 40 grounded aircrafts. What makes things sticky is the fact that general elections are just around the corner and PM Modi is keen to avoid the collapse of an airline that employs about 23,000 people.