India’s Jet Airways cancels all international flights as debt problems deepen


The debt-swamped Indian airline Jet Airways has reportedly canceled all of its international flights on Friday.

Estimates puts the carrier’s debt pile at more than $1 billion and in January it was revealed that it had defaulted on loans, including those to the government-owned State Bank of India (SBI).

In March the airline’s founder, Naresh Goyal, stepped down as chairman, handing majority control to a consortium of Indian lenders led by the SBI.

On Wednesday, the lenders extended a deadline for outside bidders to take a stake of up to 75% in the airline. Initial interest bidders have until the end of today with binding bids wanted in place by the end of April, according to a notice on the SBI Capital Markets website.

Middle East airline Etihad, which holds a 12% share in Jet Airways, has reportedly expressed an interest in upping its stake. Rules dictate that foreign entities can own no more than 49% of an Indian airline.

India’s Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, took to Twitter to say he would “review issues related to Jet Airways” and take “necessary steps to minimise passenger inconvenience and ensure their safety”.

Jet Airways had its first flight in May 1993, operating primarily out of Mumbai. Its latest official figures put the number of employees at more than 17,000.

Domestically, it is now India’s third-largest private airline after IndiGo and Spice Jet, holding a 10% passenger market share during February 2019.

CNBC contacted Jet Airways for comment but had received no reply by the time of publication.

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