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NCLT Nod Clears Runway for Jet Airways Take Off
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on June 22, approved the Kalrock-Jalan consortium's resolution plan for Jet Airways, with riders.
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The Mumbai bench of the NCLT has given the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) 90 days from June 22 to allot slots to the airline. DGCA will be the final authority on the issue of allotment of slots for Jet Airways.
BW Businessworld in February (Jet Airways Should Be Airborne Soon), Murari Lal Jalan, Chairman of Agio Image Group, who is leading the Jalan-Kalrock consortium, the winning bidder for Jet Airways, had hoped that by mid-summer (June-August), Jet Airways would be ready to take to the skies. " We should be airborne in six months’ time, which is our hope. We will start with Delhi-Mumbai and other major towns and will also go to Tier-II and Tier-III towns. My ultimate aim is that whether it is people residing in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar or Guwahati, Jet Airways will be able to offer those passengers seamless connectivity with all the major cities in India and abroad. We want to start the operations as soon as possible, not just the domestic service, but the international operations as well. My team is on the job," Jalan had told BW Businessworld then.
As is known Jet Airways was grounded in April 2019 and subsequently its slots were allocated to other airlines. Then in June 2019 the insolvency proceedings were initiated against Jet Airways. In October 2020, the Murari Lal Jalan-Kalrock Capital alliance won the bid for Jet Airways, giving the defunct airline a chance to restart operations.
Reacting to the NCLT order, Ashish Chhawchharia, the Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) for Jet Airways was quoted by a leading business television channel as being "pleased with the NCLT order". He also said he saw no reason for the DGCA to challenge the NCLT's decision, the TV channel reported.
The action would now shift to Delhi where the DGCA and civil aviation ministry will examine the detailed order from NCLT before taking a decision on the slots for this full-service carrier that had shut down. According to aviation experts, the allocation of slots on various airports may take a "few weeks" more.
In a recent affidavit submitted to the bankruptcy court, the MCA and the DGCA said Jet Airways could not claim historicity to obtain the slots. Also, that any fresh allocation of slots would require taking into account the existing guidelines.
More on Kalrock-Jalan Consortium
Kalrock is a UK-based asset management company and Murari Lal Jalan is a UAE-based entrepreneur and the Chairman of Agio Image Group. He has diverse business interests including real estate, construction among others.
This consortium has proposed a total cash flow of Rs 1,375 crore for the revival of the airline. They aim to restart operations with 30 aircraft within six months from the approval of the plan by NCLT, as confirmed with BW Businessworld in February 2021.
When asked which operations would start once all approvals are in place, Jalan told this reporter: "My preference will be to start the passenger operations first. But if there are some regulatory issues, we can start with cargo. Basically, there will be flexibility and we will be ready to start Jet Airways whatever may be the situation."
Founded by Naresh Goyal over 25 years, Jet Airways was grounded on April 17, 2019 due to massive cash crunch. Thousands of employees soon went out of work as the company struggled to pay. The case was admitted for the resolution process in June 2019 by SBI-led consortium under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.