Jet Airways’ revival might have hit yet another air pocket with the news coming in of the resignation of its interim CEO, Captain Sudhir Gaur.
A commercial pilot, Gaur had put in his papers much earlier, industry sources told Business Today after the news became public on Wednesday. He was reportedly hand-picked by a powerful group within the now-defunct airline’s present management, the Jalan-Kalrock Consortium, to help with the restoration of operations.
Serious differences of opinion over the contours of the comeback plan and its management structure were attributed to his sudden departure in late 2020 by sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Confirming the development, the airline’s public relations agency told BT that Jet Airways would be releasing a statement shortly.
A full-service airline, Jet Airways ruled the Indian aviation market till the early years of the past decade before abruptly folding up in April 2019.
In a spate of recent interviews with the media, the new management has maintained that the airline would fly again from the first quarter of 2022. The revival plan is reportedly being funded through a combination of equity and external debt.
However, industry observers have regularly cast serious doubts on Kalrock-Jalan’s ability to deliver ever since the combine -- comprising the UK-registered investment firm Kalrock Capital and the UAE-based business owner Murari Lal Jalan -- won the bid for Jet. Their main objection stems from either partner’s lack of prior experience in managing or turning around aviation assets.
Meanwhile, the monitoring committee formed to implement the airline’s resolution plan is likely to meet this week to take a call on the appointment of a new CEO and other key executives. The committee comprises banks, the Kalrock-Jalan consortium and the resolution professional (RP).
Jet Airways India Ltd, which is still listed on the bourses, ended at Rs 88.10 on Wednesday, down -1.07 per cent from the previous day’s close of Rs 89.05.
Competition set to intensify in domestic market
The resignation at Jet Airways comes at a time when despite the discovery of coronavirus' Omicron variant and the threat of a third wave, analysts have forecast growth sustaining in the world’s third-largest aviation market through 2022.
Following the completion of necessary regulatory approvals, Air India will be returning to the Tata group fold after nearly seven decades. Stock market bull Rakesh Jhunjhunwala backed low-cost carrier Akasa Air is also set to launch operations in summer.
Taking cognisance of the developments, market leader IndiGo’s co-founders Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal ended their three-year-long feud at the airlines specially convened extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on December 30.
An increased pace of vaccinations and rising demand for air travel contributed by the leisure segment led to air traffic recovering substantially to reach 82 per cent of the pre-Covid-19 levels during the month of November.
Passengers carried by domestic airlines during the January-November 2021 were 726.11 lakh vs. 556.84 lakh during the corresponding period of the previous year, data compiled by the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had indicated.
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