Nearly three months after getting the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) approval, Jet Airways is finally set to resume operations. In an official announcement, the airline's new promoters Jalan-Kalrock consortium said the airline will resume operations by the first quarter of 2022. The airline currently has 150 people on the payroll, and it aims to hire over 1,000 more people in FY22.
The consortium, which has plans to start short-haul international operations by the third or fourth quarter of 2022, is looking at inducting over 50 planes in three years, and over 100 in five years. While the airline will shift its headquarters to Gurugram (from Mumbai), its newly-appointed acting CEO Capt Sudhir Gaur said that the airline will continue to have a significant presence in Mumbai as well.
The consortium is now eyeing slots at key airports since most of the slots of Jet Airways was redistributed to other airlines after its grounding in April 2019. Even though the NCLT gave its approval to the Jalan-Kalrock consortium, the Mumbai bench of the tribunal denied them the right to claim historicity to obtain airport slots. Last October, the Jalan-Kalrock consortium emerged as a successful bidder for the airline.
Aviation sector experts say the impending launch of Jet Airways will intensify competition in the market at a time when the sector is facing strong headwinds. Incumbent airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara are in deep losses owing to weak demand, suspension of international travel and high crude oil prices. The recovery of the sector will depend on how the coronavirus behaves. Essentially, the third wave of Covid can jeopardise the survival strategy of existing carriers.
But for now, things are looking up for the sector. In the past three months, domestic traffic has jumped significantly. In July, for instance, the traffic jumped 132 per cent over the same month last year. The revival of business and leisure travel post the second wave has boosted the traffic across the key metros and tourist destinations.
Though it remains to be seen whether Jet will reincarnate as FSC (full-service carrier) - as previously - it'll face more competition than its previous avatar as Rakesh Jhujhunwala-backed Akasa is also planning to start operations by mid-2022. As per aviation consultancy CAPA, Akasa will be run by former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube, and the proposed LCC aims to acquire 70 aircraft within the next four years.
"The resumption of operations at Jet Airways will not only be beneficial for passengers as increased competition will in all likelihood drive fares down, but also for the host of service providers in the aviation ecosystem," says Vinamra Longani, head of operations at Sarin & Co, a law firm specialising in aviation matters.
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