PMO gets involved as Jet Airways cancels international flights till this weekend

Jet Airways. (File Photo: Jet Airways)

Mumbai:  Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday stepped in to assess Jet Airways’ financial situation as the cash-strapped airline suspended its international operations till the weekend after further reduction in its fleet size.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola met PMO officials towards the evening to update them about the situation of the airline.

Kharola later told reporters that the government has advised the airline not to compromise on safety in any manner.

He said that currently Jet Airways is operating 11 planes and has suspended its international operations till Monday afternoon.

Kharola further said that on Saturday, the airline will operate only six to seven aircraft.

According to the officer, Jet Airways will approach the lenders on Monday for interim funding.

“They (Jet) have suspended their international operations till Monday afternoon. They have approached them (banks) for interim funding and on Monday they will approach the banks again,” Kharola said.

“Today only 11 planes are flying. Tomorrow it’s going to be 6 or may be 7 planes,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had directed Kharola to review the issues concerning the airline and take required steps to minimise passenger inconvenience.

On its part, the airline said it has cancelled all international operations from April 12 to 15.

“…the airline’s management and its key stakeholders, including its consortium of lenders, continue to work closely towards resolving the current situation,” a Jet spokesperson said in a statement.

A day before, the airline decided to halt West-bound international departures after it was left with only 14 aircraft from around 120 last year, triggering speculations over its survival as a lengthy stake sale process continued.

The airline on Thursday operated only about 14 aircraft, down from 26 last week, inviting government scrutiny over Jet’s regulatory compliance for international flying.

As per rules, an airline needs to have a minimum of 20 aircraft to be eligible to operate international flights.

Till recently, the airline operated 26 aircraft, including Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s, 737-800 and ATRs, to various destinations like London, Toronto, Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris, Bangkok and domestic sectors like Mumbai-Delhi, among others.

It apparently owns 16 out of these 26 aircraft.