Jet Airways Fighting To Stay Alive As 90% Of Fleet Grounded

Filed Under: Jet Airways

Update: The inevitable has happened. India’s Jet Airways has ceased operations as of April 17, 2019.


I haven’t written about the Jet Airways mess yet, and I’m sorry about that. I’m not sure why, but it has just been so involved and constantly changing that I felt like I couldn’t do it justice. However, something is better than nothing.

Jet Airways has long been considered to be the “premium” Indian long haul airline, and for many has been the airline of choice over Air India. The airline had an investment from Etihad, and my flights on them have been great.


Jet Airways’ 777 first class

Unfortunately conditions at the airline have deteriorated significantly. The airline has been looking for investors, though has been unsuccessful. As a result, Jet Airways hasn’t been able to pay their bills.

The company has racked up over a billion dollars in debt, and has missed payments for employees, fuel, and even aircraft lease payments. At the beginning of the year Jet Airways had over 120 planes, while now they’re down to just over a dozen planes, so their fleet has shrunk by nearly 90%.

To put into perspective just how bad things are, here’s a Flightradar24 graphic showing the number of planes the airline has had flying a year ago, six months ago, three months ago, one month ago, one week ago, and now. Ouch.

Yesterday the airline was even forced to ground all international flights, due to Indian regulations requiring a minimum number of planes to operate international flights.

Creditors have given the airline until today for potential buyers to declare their interest in buying a controlling stake in Jet Airways. There have been all kinds of rumors as to what companies might be interested. Etihad has been thrown around, though even airlines like Air Canada are allegedly interested, which I find highly unlikely.

Jet Airways’ 737 business class

All of this comes in the midst of elections in India, where the country is voting on a prime minister, which no doubt increases the stakes in all of this, given what a big company Jet Airways is (or at least was).

This is a situation that’s worth watching over the coming days. Either the airline will get an outside investment, they’ll be bailed out by the government, or they could even go out of business completely. Things aren’t looking good…

Comments
  1. Every airline in India is losing money. Whether its Air India, Jet or Kingfisher. The Indian aviation market is just not conducive to running a profitable airline. Fares are even less than US, aviation fuel is taxed as a luxury good , very few companies pay for their employees to fly business, pilot training is very expensive hence pilot salaries are high.
    If the govt wants the aviation industry to succeed it needs to cut the taxes on aviation fuel (whatever it gets as taxes it spends on bailouts so the taxes are pointless)

  2. Wow, flew with them 4 months ago and the service was excellent. It’s too bad to see this happening to a good airline.

  3. About time, Lucky, given that this is the biggest airline about to go belly-up in this past decade, along with Transaero and Air Berlin. It is nice to finally hear your thoughts on this.

    Live From A Lounge, BoardingArea’s Indian blog, has covered the sad situation at Jet Airways comprehensively. I think you might want to refer to that blog for a more complete picture.

    Thank you for finally covering this!

  4. @Prabuddha

    To say it in @Debit way. India is a broken country. Government is quoting @Debit “pulling a Trump”.

    India can send probes to the moon and have a sizeable nuclear arsenal, but 800 million people live under $2 per day.

    India’s problem is the government. They are really dumb. Making 1000 rupee bills recycle paper, so they can curb tax evasion. Go ask any Indian did it work. Did the rich paid more tax?
    They claim these rich people stash 1000 bills to avoid tax, so what did they do. They make a new 2000 bill so these people can use less space to hide cash. Smart of dumb?

  5. Ben: Given the rash of recent failed or failing airlines what happens to all those planes? Many are leased. What do the lessors do with them? The world can only absorb so many commercial aircraft. I think we’re truly seeing peak plane when it comes to Asia, the third world. It’s a problem derived from poor management/business models, too rapid growth, corruption, fuel prices, and too many airlines chasing too few paying passengers.

  6. As much as I like the current Indian Government, I think this was a bad move.

    Regulations NEVER do any good, and in this case it’ll destroy an airline.

  7. I have flight with them in Dec AUD-BOM, booked via Etihad. I assume, Etihad will make the necessary arrangements

  8. Wow, who knew Endre was such a bigot?

    Too bad about Jet Airways. They offer a much better service overall than Air India does. If anything, Jet Airways should be India’s national airline.

  9. I live in a tech hub city in the US and there are plenty of young Americans making a gob of money working in tech, and plenty of Americans enrolled in STEM at local universities. The foreigners have not stolen all the jobs.

  10. What happens to the tickets booked? Does the credit card provider refund you? Ben – an article outlining the options in such a case would be helpful for thousands of Indians :).

  11. @Prabuddha Indigo apparently is doing very well and starting some longer haul international routes. While indigo is technically not a full
    Service carrier, I had no complaints when I flew them. The aviation market in India is not all that bad for everyone.

  12. Why when it seems such a lucrative potential market, do so many Indian airlines keep failing.

    Also the large Indian cities do have many wealthy people who would fly in first or business even without companies expenses, so do they prefer flying on eg British Airways and Lufthansa, or the Gulf Carriers to Europe in the premium classes?

  13. Wow, @Endre is a racist piece of sh*t. Shame on you @Lucky for allowing such comments to be posted.

  14. @ frederik
    yes wealthy indians really fly other top airlines. that too in first & business class. its a status problem.

  15. Indigo is my favorite budget airline period. I despise budget airlines in the US and Europe, but Indigo is very pleasant. I think the budget airline is much more relevant to the Indian aviation market, which is still maturing. It’s no surprise that Jet Airways is going bankrupt. Part of the problem is that the airlines in India, significantly smaller than the competitors, simply cannot accrue sufficient revenue to stay alive. Welcome to the world of aviation deregulation allowing the Emirates, Etihads, Qatars, Lufthansas and BAs to flood the market. Right now, I can fly R/T to Delhi from Chicago for USD600 on Emirates. This is just one of over 160 weekly flights to India by Emirates. On a different note, the issue with Jet Airways is going to have zero impact on the current elections.

    @Eskimo – The government’s idea to introduce a new currency and thereby forcing those with black cash to reveal their assets was well received. The issue was in managing the supply of the new currencies. The only thing dumb is such casual comments.

  16. @Kyle R

    Short term the market will eat up all the planes they can get, those B737 Jet Airways had will be a Godsend to airlines with grounded B737MAX if that whole mess drag on until summer season.

    Same with the long haul planes due to the whole Dreamliner RR engine problems.

    Right now the market for newer used aircraft’s seems to lack aircraft’s having been vacuumed dry.

    And remember there is a lot of old B737-300 still flying out there in less developed nations, a used B737-800 that was priced right will probably sell fast.

  17. @Eskimo Its not the govt’s job to make sure everyone has a good job. This is not communism. Its the govts job to create a well regulated competitive economy . After that people sink or swim by their own efforts in the free market.
    Also your statistics are shit. 78 million live on less than $2 a day not 800 million and the number is falling rapidly and will be zero by 2025.
    The Mars mission cost 20 million which is 20/1300 = 1.5 cents per Indian. Not doing a Mars mission would make no difference whereas doing one creates employment for talented scientists who would otherwise emigrate (most of Nasa is Indians)

  18. My YYZ-AMS RT flight in June is now cancelled. The airline offered no alternative. Scrambled yesterday to book another flight and had to book on UA at almost double the price of the Jet Airways flight.

  19. I feel very sorry for the staff. When Northwest Airlines began serving Mumbai and Delhi from Amsterdam I worked many of those flights and our U.S.-based cabin crews were assisted on each flight by two flight attendants from Jet Airways. They were all such terrific people! Those Jet crewmembers would work a Northwest flight to Amsterdam and then after a layover return to India on a KLM flight – so they were issued NWA and KLM uniforms. Since I love India it was a treat for me to have the opportunity to get to know some of the young and enthusiastic Jet Airways flight attendants and learn from them more about their amazing country.

  20. My refund was processed today. I filed two weeks ago with my travel agency. Kiwi Travel came good.

  21. I believe that they are only operating 6 ATR aircraft at the moment as well as 1 737. It’s amazing how fast they lost them.

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