INDIA’S crisis hit Jet Airways extended a suspension of all of its international flights until Monday (15), the latest blow to the debt-stricken carrier as it battles to stay afloat.
The development on Friday (12) came after the government said it would investigate Jet’s ability to continue flying as lenders desperately seek a buyer to keep the beleaguered airline running.
A Jet Airways source said that all of Jet’s international flights out of and into India until Monday (15) had been cancelled, extending a series of cancellations announced yesterday (11).
Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu earlier tweeted on Friday (12) that his ministry would “review issues related to Jet Airways” and “take necessary steps to minimise passenger inconvenience and ensure their safety”.
The airline told the Bombay Stock Exchange on Thursday (11) that it had grounded 10 more planes due to non-payment.
The airline is believed to now be operating just 16 planes out of a fleet of 119. That is below the 20 required by Indian aviation regulators to fly overseas.
All of Jet’s long-haul flights were cancelled on Thursday (11), including to London, Paris and Amsterdam. They had been due to run later on Friday (12).
Thursday (11) and Friday (12) services to Colombo and Singapore were also cancelled.
Meanwhile, the Indian prime minister’s office called for an urgent meeting to discuss issues with Jet Airways at 1230 GMT on today (12), television news channels reported, citing sources.
The principal secretary to prime minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to chair the meeting, the TV channels said.
Government officials have previously expressed concern about the loss of jobs at the airline and on the prospect of higher Indian airfares if Jet Airways collapsed.
Jet’s lenders, led by State Bank of India (SBI) are still trying to seek expressions of interest in the carrier from potential investors interested in turning around the airline.
A complete collapse of the airline would deal a blow to prime minister Narendra Modi’s pro-business reputation as Indians vote in a mega six-week-long election that started Thursday (11).
Jet was until recently India’s second-biggest airline by market share but is close to going under with debts of more than $1 billion (£765.61 million).
The Mumbai-based carrier has been forced to ground the majority of its fleet after months of defaulting on loans and struggling to pay lessors and staff.