In more trouble for debt-ridden Jet Airways, the government plans to start distributing its flying rights towards end of next week in case the airline is unable to find new owners.
Several airlines have placed requests for awarding of Jet's flying rights to destinations such as Singapore, Thailand and the Middle East.
The move is likely to worry prospective bidders such as Etihad Airways, TPG Capital and Indigo Partners who are yet to sign non-disclosure agreements necessary for conducting due diligence, with just days left now to submit their final bids, according to a report by The Economic Times.
The bidders have until May 10 to submit their offers.
The bidders have been banking on the airline's ability to retain lucrative flying rights and slots at airports.
An aviation ministry official told ET that they held a meeting with these airlines on the issue and were assured that the carriers would return the routes allocated to them when asked by the government and Jet Airways.
"We would have liked to award these routes to other carriers as early as possible but we have decided to wait till Jet Airways finds a buyer, as we got requests from various quarters to not award these rights right now," said the official.
The government has been receiving requests from Dubai, Qatar and Singapore seeking an increase in foreign flying quota. Foreign flying quota is measured in terms of seats per week airlines can operate.
After Jet Airways has been grounded, a large number of seats will return to the system and can be reassigned to other Indian carriers which can add flights on those routes.
Before its grounding, Jet had the biggest share of India's outbound international air traffic, carrying 12 per cent of the 7.8 million passengers headed overseas in the Oct-Dec quarter, down from 14 per cent a year earlier, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed.
The total number of passengers travelling overseas with Jet fell 10 per cent during the last quarter of 2018 even as the outbound travel market grew by about 5 per cent.
(Edited by Aseem)