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All eyes are on Jet Airways’ bidders this week. Here’s why

PW Bureau

Etihad Airways, TPG Capital, Indigo Partners and NIIF are among the entities that have shown an interest in picking up a controlling stake in the airline

New Delhi: Even though the message that echoed at the gathering of employees of debt-ridden Jet Airways at New Delhi airport on Sunday was one of exuberance and hope, the odds against the airline seem to be high. This week is going to be a crucial week for Jet as the deadline for bidders to submit their bids expires on Friday.

The Sunday gathering

On Sunday, the message relayed to the employees who had gathered at Delhi airport’s T3 terminal to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Jet Airways was one that espoused hope: “We are 26 years young today. Joy of Flying (the airline's tagline) ... Let the bidders not only know our strength but let's be an example for the business houses across the world for the solidarity and strength of the dedicated employees!!”

“Let’s do it on this very significant day with hope and prayers in our hearts that we will fly back soon,” employees were told.

What is the current situation?

Jet Airways has a debt of over Rs 8,000 crores and banks have been unwilling to lend more to the airline without any investor coming on board. Etihad Airways, which holds a 24 percent stake in the airline, had earlier promised to bring in more funds but had later backed out on its promise.

After shutting down operations on April 17, Jet has lost over half of its aircraft fleet, slots and employees. Its rivals, such as IndiGo and SpiceJet, have not just picked up jet employees but have also moved aggressively to expand flight services to slots vacated by the debt-ridden airline.

Which investors have shown interest?

Etihad Airways, TPG Capital, Indigo Partners and NIIF are among the entities that have shown an interest in picking up a controlling stake in the airline. However, even as the deadline for them draws closer, reports have suggested quite ominously that the bidders are not keen on following up on the expressions of interest submitted by them.

The airline would have had better chances of finding an investor had the banks kept Jet flying. However, as thing stand today, the task of getting the airline back on its feet and start out from square one seems like an onerous task.