Jet Airways stock suffers heavy losses after emergency funding doubts

Key Points
  • The carrier has already suspended international operations till April 18.
  • A wider shutdown is expected if bridging cash cannot be secured. 
  • The Indian airline's pilots have gone without salaries for months.
An Indian security official looks on as an aircraft of Jet Airways taxies after landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India.
Raveendran | AFP | Getty Images

Almost twenty percent of the value of Indian airline Jet Airways was wiped away at one stage Tuesday, following uncertainty over lifeline funding needed to keep planes flying.

The airline has run out of cash, forcing pilots to go without salaries for months and causing failed payments to companies that lease aircraft, as well as defaults on other loans.

As the cash crunch has worsened, the airline's fleet has shrunk to seven aircraft from 119, as unpaid leasing companies who own the planes take back the aircraft. Shares in the carrier have fallen by more than 60 percent in the last 12 months.

The airline's board has been hoping to secure 15 billion rupees ($215 million) in emergency funding and it is being reported by CNBC-TV18 that the board of Jet Airways has asked CEO Vinay Dube to plead one last time to lenders. Without a credit lifeline, it is understood operations will have to be temporarily shut down.

The carrier, which was founded more than 25 years ago, has already suspended international operations till April 18.

On India's National Stock Exchange in Mumbai on Tuesday, stock in the carrier was down more than 18 percent at one stage but had pared losses to sit around 7.5 percent down after reports that funding from lenders was likely to come through.

In March, the airline's founder, Naresh Goyal, stepped down as chairman, handing majority control to a consortium of Indian lenders led by government-owned SBI (State Bank of India). A longer-term rescue for the airline is being crafted, with bids being encouraged for outsiders to take a majority stake.

SBI Capital Markets, a division of the State Bank of India, is running the Jet Airways stake sale on behalf of a consortium of lenders.

Potential buyers reportedly include Etihad Airways, PJSC, India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and private equity firms TPG Capital and Indigo Partners.

A separate proposal backed by founder Goyal is believed to have now withdrawn its bid.

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.