India’s beleaguered Jet Airways founder held at airport

Goyal was taken into custody at Mumbai’s international airport along with his wife Anita after authorities recalled the Dubai bound Emirates flight as it headed to the runway for take-off. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 May 2019
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India’s beleaguered Jet Airways founder held at airport

  • Goyal is not under investigation but a number of high-profile businessmen have fled India over their alleged involvement in financial crimes, causing a massive public outcry
  • The 69-year-old stepped down from the company’s chairmanship and board in March following a debt restructuring pact with lenders as it reeled under a loan of $1.2 billion

MUMBAI: Indian Immigration authorities on Saturday stopped former Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal and his wife from traveling to London, an official said, months after the debt-laden company grounded its fleet.
Goyal was taken into custody at Mumbai’s international airport along with his wife Anita after authorities recalled the Dubai bound Emirates flight as it headed to the runway for take-off, a spokesperson for the immigration department said in a statement to AFP.
Officials gave no explanation for the couple’s travel ban but media reports said they were allowed to leave the airport later.
Goyal is not under investigation but a number of high-profile businessmen have fled India over their alleged involvement in financial crimes, causing a massive public outcry.
The 69-year-old stepped down from the company’s chairmanship and board in March following a debt restructuring pact with lenders as it reeled under a loan of $1.2 billion.
Anita also stepped down from the board.
Once India’s top airline, Jet halted its operations after a consortium of lenders declined to pay emergency cash as it failed to find a buyer for a 75 percent stake in the carrier in April.
The consortium led by State Bank of India, India’s biggest state-owned bank, took control of Jet in March, pledging to give $218 million in “immediate funding support” as part of a rescue plan.
But the lenders refused dole-out cash to the beleaguered airline that has failed to pay employees’ salaries since January, forcing hundreds on to the streets as some 20,000 staff face losing their jobs.
Bad investments, competition from several low-cost carriers, high oil prices and a weak rupee have led to Jet’s current financial predicament. Mismanagement has also plagued the airline.
Analysts trace the start of Jet’s financial problems to its 2006 purchase of Air Sahara for $500 million in cash.
Goyal, a travel-agent-turned entrepreneur, launched Jet in 1992 after the Indian government passed a series of reforms designed to make the economy more market-driven.
The Mumbai-based carrier quickly gained a reputation for introducing new initiatives — Jet was the first Indian airline to offer a frequent flyer program and in-flight entertainment.
But it began to take a battering from new, well-run budget airlines including IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet, which were founded between 2005 and 2006.
Another low-cost carrier, Kingfisher Airlines closed in 2012 after it failed to repay loans worth millions of dollars to state-owned banks. Its owner Vijay Mallya fled India in 2016 and is currently fighting an extradition case in London court against his deportation for facing financial fraud trial.


France, Germany sign European jet fighter deal

Updated 16 min 35 sec ago
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France, Germany sign European jet fighter deal

  • The new agreement will include a new generation combat aircraft
  • The development phase is expected to start by 2030

LE BOURGET, France: France, Germany and Spain agreed Monday to develop a European fighter jet and air combat system, as they bolster efforts to reduce their dependency on the United States.
Defense ministers from the three countries signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show that lays out how the countries will cooperate on the project, which would include a new-generation combat aircraft.
French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the signing. The project fits in with his ambition to increase European cooperation at a time when the United States under President Donald Trump is showing an increasing reluctance to support the continent militarily.
It’s going to take time though. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is not expected to be operational until 2040. Requirements for the air combat system that will also include drones will be decided by 2027 and the development phase should start by 2030.
French Defense minister Florence Parly said the deal is “concrete proof that Europe is capable of anticipating tomorrow’s great strategic challenges.”
“The FCAS is a major asset to tackle the power struggles of the second half of the 21st century. What is happening today is historic,” she said.
Dassault Aviation and Airbus are set to build the jets which will eventually replace Rafale and Eurofighters.
The program was launched by Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017. Airbus says it will be connected and operable with a wide variety of aircraft, satellites, NATO systems as well as land and naval combat systems.
Authorities have not said how much it would cost but the dpa news agency estimates it could be $112 billion.