Jet Airways aircraft are seen parked at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. File photo/ Reuters
Lenders to India's Jet Airways Ltd said on Thursday they are “reasonably hopeful” that the bidding process for the grounded airline will end successfully.
Jet Airways, once India's largest private airline, on Wednesday evening halted all flight operations indefinitely after lenders led by State Bank of India declined to extend more funds to keep it going.
The carrier, saddled with roughly $1.2 billion of bank debt, has been teetering for weeks after failing to receive a stop-gap loan of about $217 million from its lenders, as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.
At its peak, Jet operated over 120 planes and well over 600 daily flights. The airline, which has roughly 16,000 employees, has in recent weeks been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and to halt all flights out of India as funds dried up.
“The lenders after due deliberations decided that the best way forward for the survival of Jet Airways is to get the binding bids from potential investors who have expressed EOI and have been issued bid documents on 16th April,” the lenders said on Thursday, referring to expressions of interest.
“Lenders are reasonably hopeful that the bid process is likely to be successful in determining fair value of the enterprise in a transparent manner.”
CNBC-TV18 reported on Tuesday that Jet's lenders were set to invite binding bids from four shortlisted suitors that include private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners, Indian wealth fund National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), and Etihad Airways, which already owns a minority stake in Jet.
Shares in Jet, which have tumbled about 60 per cent in the last year, closed on Tuesday at 240.50 rupees a share. Indian markets were closed on Wednesday due to a public holiday.
Jet still has a market capitalisation of about $400 million, as investors have clung to hopes of a rescue deal being clinched.
India’s SpiceJet Ltd said on Friday it will prioritize hiring employees of Jet Airways Ltd who are losing their jobs after the crisis-hit Indian airline halted all flight operations indefinitely this week. “We have already provided jobs to more than 100 pilots, more than 200 cabin crew and more than 200 technical and airport staff,”
Several hundred staff gathered outside the airline's headquarters in Mumbai on Thursday, chanting "We want justice" and "Please save Jet Airways."
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