Collapsed Indian airline Jet Airways moved a step closer to revival on Tuesday when a bankruptcy court gave approval to a resolution plan.
The court approved a plan submitted by London-based financial advisory company Kalrock Capital and Dubai-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan to resurrect India’s oldest private airline.
Its success hinges on Jet being able to reclaim the airport landing and departure slots that it had before it ceased operations two years ago.
“Within 90 days . . . we should have a fair amount of clarity as to what slots are available or not available for Jet,” said Ashish Chhawchharia, a partner at Grant Thornton leading the resolution process, in an interview with CNBC.
He added that Jet still had most of its old slots. “It’s only a couple of airports where there are some constraints, I think we should be able to find an amicable solution,” he said.
Jet ran out of cash and was forced to ground all its flights in April 2019, after struggling to find an investor to bail it out.
The collapse of what was once one of the country’s largest carriers left thousands of people without work and Jet pilots staged protests at airports for weeks over unpaid salaries.
Founder Naresh Goyal was ousted as chair after a string of annual losses that resulted in Jet steadily losing ground to IndiGo, its younger, budget competitor, which has squeezed rivals with low prices to become India’s biggest airline.
In December, Indian investigators closed a money-laundering probe against Goyal who had been barred from flying out of the country after Jet’s collapse.
Goyal started the airline in 1992 and transformed the industry by improving service standards. But poor management, high oil prices and India’s competitive market eventually brought down the company.
According to its website, Kalrock is mainly active in “real estate, venture capital and special situations”. Jalan is also involved in real estate with “a particular focus on Uzbekistan”, according to his company’s website. Kalrock and Jalan did not respond to a request for comment.
Aviation is a tough market in India where consumers are very price sensitive. The government has struggled to privatise state-owned Air India for years, while liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines collapsed in 2012.