In a bid to ensure that it can launch services soon, Jet Airways has entered into a lease agreement with Dublin-based lessor Avolon to lease Airbus A320 aircraft. According to sources, the six-month-old aircraft was leased to Russian carrier S7 Airlines. The aircraft was ferried back from Toulouse to Maastricht in the Netherlands for a fresh coat of paint.
Neither Avolon nor Jet Airways responded to queries. The aircraft tracking website, Planespotters.net, posted a photo of the narrow-body aircraft with the freshly painted livery.
The development comes at a time when there have been delays in restarting the operations of the airline. Jet Airways plans to restart operations by November this year. Earlier, the airline had said it was targeting to launch operations in October.
Amid reports of the launch being delayed, a spokesperson for the consortium said the airline is very close to finalising its initial fleet plan in preparation for opening for sale soon and restart of operations in the coming weeks.
“There is no deadline; target dates are set by us alone, and we have always maintained that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We had said we were targeting to launch by October 2022, and we are tracking quite close to that,” the spokesperson said.
One of the executives quoted earlier said the airline is in an advanced stage of discussions for leasing aircraft and an announcement is likely soon.
In August, Bloomberg reported Jet Airways was talking to Airbus about potentially ordering fifty A220s valued at around USD1.8 billion after discounts and with a delivery timeline starting circa 2025. The same report cited talks with Boeing about a “sizeable” B737 MAX order.
The airline is yet to announce an official order for the aircraft; it is negotiating to place an order for at least 50 aircraft, sources said. However, initially, it plans to restart operations with leased A320 Neos and B737 Max. Jet Airways had also invited applications from pilots who are current and type-rated on the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737NG or MAX aircraft.
Jet Airways shut shop in April 2019 over unpaid dues, it was later dragged to the insolvency court by SBI. It was only in June 2021 that the NCLT approved the resolution plan for Jet Airways submitted by the Jalan Kalrock Consortium.
At its peak, it had around 180 aircraft in its fleet, including Airbus A330-200s, ATR72-500s, Boeing 777s, and Boeing 737-400s 700s and 800s. Post its closure, most of the aircraft barring eight were leased out to other airlines.
An internal document reviewed suggests the airline plans “to have two-class configuration and intends to return to the skies as a ‘smart’ full-service carrier, with a two-class cabin configuration, including a business class cabin designed to global standards, and an evolved economy class that offers digital-age customers what they most value.”
Jet Airways clashed with former lenders who were left substantially out of pocket after the 2019 collapse. Several are reportedly reluctant to allow the airline to take on fresh liabilities and acquire the new aircraft needed to restart operations.
However, Jet Airways maintains there is no current impediment to placing a fresh aircraft order or acquiring new assets. Meanwhile, the airline’s new owners are due in India’s Bankruptcy Court on October 11 to provide an update on the carrier’s rescue plan, including plans to acquire new aircraft.
Cover Image – Simon Paul