Etihad ‘could own 40% of India’s Jet Airways’

A Jet Airways plane at the city airport in Mumbai. Jet owes money to banks, pilots, vendors and lessors, some of whom are considering taking back aircraft. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2019
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Etihad ‘could own 40% of India’s Jet Airways’

  • With debts of about $1.14 billion, Jet has been hit by fierce competition from other low-cost carriers, a rupee depreciation and high oil prices
  • Jet said on Monday it would seek shareholder approval next month to convert debt into equity, increase its share capital and allow lenders to nominate a director on its board

NEW DELHI: Jet Airways creditor State Bank of India is likely to own 15 percent of the airline if the cash-strapped carrier’s plan for a debt-for-equity swap is approved, Indian TV channels reported on Tuesday.
With debts of about $1.14 billion, Jet has been hit by fierce competition from other low-cost carriers, a rupee depreciation and high oil prices. It owes money to banks, pilots, vendors and lessors, some of whom are considering taking back aircraft, sources have told Reuters.
Jet said on Monday it would seek shareholder approval next month to convert debt into equity, increase its share capital and allow lenders to nominate a director on its board to help resolve its financial problems.
Its lenders, including SBI, could end up owning as much as 30 percent while shareholder Etihad Airways could see its stake rise to more than 40 percent from 24 percent if it injects more equity in the Indian carrier, TV channels reported. The airline’s founder and chairman Naresh Goyal is likely to see his stake cut to below 20 percent from 51 percent.
Jet, which controls a sixth of India’s booming aviation market, did not respond to a request for comment, while SBI and Etihad also did not reply to emails seeking a response.
Indian banks in 2010 undertook a similar debt for equity swap to try and save Kingfisher Airlines, founded by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, and ended up owning nearly a quarter of the airline, before losing out when it was eventually grounded.
Jet defaulted on a debt payment to a consortium of Indian banks, lead by SBI, this month, prompting a downgrade by ratings agency ICRA.
The airline has to make large debt repayments over the next few years, starting with about 17 billion rupees ($242 million) by the end of March, ICRA said on Jan. 2.
The Economic Times reported on Tuesday that Jet’s lenders want to repossess some planes and have forced the airline to ground five aircraft, including its new fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX planes, leading to flight cancelations.
Jet was scheduled to add 11,737 MAX planes to its fleet by March 31, but has taken delivery of only five and will not add more until a resolution plan is agreed, Reuters has reported.


British Airways launches first direct flight from Dammam to London

Updated 19 min 41 sec ago
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British Airways launches first direct flight from Dammam to London

  • Flights will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777-200 departing year-round
  • Dammam will become the third route the airline flies to in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: British Airways has launched the first ever direct flight from Dammam to London Heathrow.
The carrier has already started selling tickets priced from SR2,480 for the new route which will start Dec. 1, 2019.
Flights will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777-200 departing year-round from Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport and landing in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, British Airways said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dammam will become the third route the airline flies to in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah.
“This new link between Dammam and London underlines the importance of the Eastern province and the need for smooth onward connections to Europe and the United States, said Moran Birger, BA head of sales for the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
It will cut journey times between the two airports by three hours or more because passengers will no longer need to either drive to Bahrain or transit through Riyadh for a connecting flight, the airline said.