India’s long-grounded airline, Jet Airways, could resume operations by the end of the first quarter of 2022, its new owners say.
In its second innings, following its bankruptcy in 2019, the country’s oldest private airline is set to fly again, first on major domestic routes, and then to foreign destinations by the second half of 2022. Jet’s first-ever flight since April 2019 will be from New Delhi to Mumbai, the company said in a press release today (Sept. 13).
“Jet Airways 2.0 aims at restarting domestic operations by Q1-2022, and short-haul international operations by Q3/Q4 2022,” said UAE-based entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan, lead member of the London-based Jalan Kalrock Consortium and the proposed non-executive chairman of Jet Airways. Before the airline shut operations in 2019, it operated 600 domestic and 380 international routes.
Jet Airways ceased operations in April 2019 due to a massive financial crunch, and now, with its comeback in 2022, the airline will become the first-ever Indian carrier to be revived under the bankruptcy law.
Jet will now be headquartered in the greater Delhi metro region instead of Mumbai.
The new senior management of the airline will be working from its corporate office in Gurugram. However, the airline will continue to have a significant presence in Mumbai, where it has a “state-of-the-art” training centre, according to its acting CEO Sudhir Gaur.
In terms of planes, the airline will lease an all narrow-body aircraft fleet to restart its domestic operations. The airline says it is aiming to lease more than 50 aircraft in the next three years and more than 100 in five years to fulfill both its short-term and long-term business plans.
Earlier in June, Ashish Chhawchharia, head of restructuring services at Grant Thornton Advisory, which was appointed by the Kalrock-Jalan consortium, said the airline will initially operate on 20 routes, with 20 narrow-body aircraft and five wide-bodied planes. Since then, the consortium has been working closely with the relevant authorities and airport coordinators on slot allocation, required airport infrastructure, and night parking.
Meanwhile, Jet Airways has already hired more than 150 full-time employees. Apart from this, the airline is also looking to onboard more than 1,000 employees across various categories before the financial year ending on March 31, 2022.
“The hiring will be in a phased manner and will be strictly on merit, to meet the operational requirements of the airline,” said Gaur.
Analysts say it’s too soon to comment on the possible success of Jet 2.0. “The existing players are already struggling since the outbreak of Covid-19 in India. The sector still has a far way to go when it comes to reaching pre-Covid levels, as traffic is at an all-time low,” said Ashish Nainan, a Mumbai-based independent aviation analyst. “Now, if the entire industry fails to get through the Covid-induced slump, it’ll be interesting to see how far an airline like Jet, which is starting everything from scratch, will go.”
Unfazed by these concerns, the stock market has already expressed its confidence in the airline’s new business strategy. The airline’s share price hit 5% upper circuit on the BSE with news of the resumption of its domestic operations. The stock was trading at 83.50 rupees ($1.13), up Rs3.95, or 4.97%.