How the Ukraine war may give wings to Jet airways' international plans

How the Ukraine war may give wings to Jet airways' international plans

Jet Airways is looking to lease around 20 Airbus A320 aircraft from lessors by 2024, aiming to restart operations and fly international routes in the next year and a half.

Sources said that the A320 aircraft will be a mix of the Ceo and more fuel-efficient Neo variant and will primarily be aircraft initially intended for Russian airlines. The aircraft could not be delivered as Airbus, Boeing, and western lessors have sanctioned Russia due to the Ukraine invasion.

Around eight to 10 aircraft are likely to be delivered by December 2022. In its previous avatar, Jet Airways primarily flew the Boeing 737 variant.

Jet Airways shut operations in April 2019 after getting under a pile of debt and bankers refusing fresh funding.

The availability of the A320 family aircraft in multiple variants, including the 321 and 321 XLR, is one reason the airline is opting for Airbus’ popular single-aisle variant over the Boeing 737 Max.

“Due to certain global conditions, there are some aircraft which have become available with lessors which would have been available otherwise,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, CEO of Jet Airways, without commenting on the aircraft type

“We are yet to make a decision on our fleet plan but intend to ramp up operations fast and want to fly international routes by 2024 which means we will have at least 21 aircraft by then,” Kapoor added.

Bloomberg reported that the airline is close to signing an order with Airbus for aircraft, but Kapoor said delivery slots for the new order book will not be available before 2024. “Whatever scaling up we have to do in the first two years will be from leased aircraft,” he said, adding that the airline was yet to finalise the order.

Kapoor was the chief strategy and commercial officer at Vistara and oversaw strategy, marketing, and network planning and expects the airline to have its first flight in September. If that happens, Jet Airways will be the first bankrupt airline revived under the Insolvency process.

Last June, the NCLT cleared the consortium's plan to revive Jet Airways by UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan.

However, several appeals were filed before the NCLAT challenging the order by employees and workmen of Jet Airways, Punjab National Bank, TLD MEAI FZE, and Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association. The tribunal is slated to hear the case on 5 July.

A few lessors that Business Standard spoke to said that they were not sure about starting a business with Jet Airways due to confusion over the applicability of NCLT’s ruling that the airline’s previous dues getting waived off under India’s bankruptcy laws in territories outside India,

But, Kapoor said that while questions have been raised, lessors and aircraft manufacturers are comfortable doing business with the airline.

“In every discussion we have explained to lessors and vendors that it is a new management. This is not the management responsible for the past and we should be viewed as a new entity. Generally, it has been pretty clear with them that it is a new entity,” he said.

Airline executives are also showing interest in working for Jet Airways as there is more certainty now over the resumption of operations, with many from rival airlines joining the team.

The Kalrock-Jalan consortium, reviving the grounded airline, has announced senior executives in charge of engineering, inflight product and services, sales and digital.

The recruits include Prabh Sharan Singh (chief digital officer), HR Jagganath (vice president - engineering), Mark Turner (vice president - inflight products and services) and Vishesh Khanna (vice president-sales, distribution, and customer engagement).

Tanay Paalshetkar and Srihari Venugopal from Go First have joined as heads of revenue management and network planning, respectively.