Jet Airways lenders start reaching out to unsolicited bidders

PW Bureau

As the airline’s top leadership jumps ships, Jet Airways has started seeing an exodus of employees, including pilots

New Delhi: Jet Airways’ lead lender State Bank of India (SBI) has started reaching out to unsolicited bidders in order to bring equity to the beleaguered airline after Etihad Airways made public its decision to limit its shareholding in the airline to the original 24 percent. SBI is believed to have met top officials at AdiGro Aviation, the arm of London-based AdiGroup. According to reports, the state-owned lender is set to meet the Mumbai-based Darwin Group, on May 15.

“AdiGro has completed its meeting with SBI Caps. It is quite advanced in the process,” said a senior executive from the industry. SBI Caps is overseeing the bidding process. AdiGro Aviation founder Sanjay Viswanathan was earlier quoted as saying that he had the backing of investors and was interested in turning around Jet Airways along with Etihad.

A Russian aviation professional assumes charge

Apart from investors, SBI Caps has also elicited interest from a Russian aviation professional who wants to offer his expertise to turn around the airline. Oleg Evdokimov is not a bidder and has said that he does not want shares in the airline.

The Moscow-based senior executive of VIP Class, which provides clients with first-class air travel, has said that he has backing from aviation professionals. “I also have been promised help by two airlines, one from Asia and another from Africa, in plans to turnaround Jet Airways,” Evdokimov said. He has also opined that the money promised by Etihad is enough and the rest of the funds can be raised by selling owned aircraft and stake in Jet Privileges, the loyalty programme.

Employee exodus

Meanwhile, as the airline’s top leadership jumps ships, Jet has started seeing an exodus of employees, including pilots. Around 100 first officer pilots have put in their papers. A senior executive from the industry said that there were 1,019 pilots on the roll on May 1, now there must be 700-800.