The BSE has sought clarification from Jet Airways on an article on CNBC TV18 this morning that stated that the airline was “likely to temporarily shut down its operations” after it failed to secure emergency funding yesterday. The airline board is meeting again today but all international flights remain suspended until Thursday officially. Without funds, the airline’s long-haul fleet will remain grounded and its pilots remain unpaid. Pilots and other Jet Airways staff threatened to begin strike action yesterday but were awaiting the result of the board meeting; as funds are not forthcoming, the group may continue with direct action. The lenders’ consortium is probably relying on an investor bid to rescue the airline but any deal is unlikely to be realised by the end of the week.
The Indian government has directed Pradeep Singh Kharola, the secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation, to review the issues related to Jet Airways, specifically increasing fares and flight cancellations. He has been asked to take necessary steps to protect passenger rights and safety; and to work with all stakeholders for their “wellbeing”.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet is scooping up the routes abandoned by Jet with the launch of new services from Mumbai to Colombo, Kathmandu, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, which will begin from the end of May. Last week, SpiceJet announced six new domestic flights connecting Mumbai with Kolkata, Chennai and Varanasi, which will commence from next week. The airline also aims to enhance its operations between Mumbai and Dubai with two additional frequencies. SpiceJet will be deploying its Boeing 737 NG aircraft on the new routes.
Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said: “We are delighted to connect a large number of popular international destinations from Mumbai, a city that has always been a key and integral part of our network. SpiceJet will be the only Indian budget carrier operating on a majority of routes that we have announced today thus providing leisure and business travellers with more options to choose from.”
SpiceJet is also inducting five 90-seater Q400 aircraft into its fleet, growing its Bombardier fleet size to 32. Three of these planes will join SpiceJet’s fleet in the next ten days while the remaining two will be inducted by June.
“As part of our efforts to augment capacity and minimize passenger inconvenience, SpiceJet will induct five more Q400s in addition to the 16 B737s we announced last week,” said Singh. “The sudden reduction of aviation capacity should in no way hamper air connectivity to the smaller towns and cities of India and as the country’s largest regional operator, SpiceJet will make all possible efforts in this direction.”
The 90-seater variant is part of SpiceJet’s second purchase order for up to 50 Q400 turboprops placed in September 2017.