The Demise Of Jet Airways

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

Photo by AeroNewsX/Chris de Breun.

Jet Airways, which was one of the premier airlines in Indian aviation Industry, no longer exists.

Founded by Mr. Naresh Goyal and his wife in 1993, its mission was ensuring the country's biggest private carrier had impeccable service - "a world class product built in India". For a while it was a success, and in 2003 Jet Airways had whopping 44% share of the domestic market.

The airline's problems started when Mr. Naresh Goyal placed an order for 22 wide body aircraft, comprising a mix of Boeing 777s & Airbus A330s, in 2006. The impracticality of this was that no airline in its right mind would place such a small order for a mixed fleet of wide body planes.

Photo by AeroNewsX/Célian Génier.

To complicate things further Jet Airways' configuration on wide body aircraft were not configured in a right manner (there were too many first class seats and were not earning revenue for the airline). These aircraft had a seating capacity of only 300, whereas the industry average for seats in wide body aircraft (to generate revenue) was at least 400. They had no proper international network plan for these aircraft, due to which Jet kept losing 1/4th of what it could earn from those aircraft.

Soon after this, Jet Airways acquired Air Sahara for 14.5 billion rupees (roughly $209 million) in 2007, which came with problems of its own as Air Sahara had several labour and tax issues. It was said that the move to buy Air Sahara was made against the recommendations of the Board members. Even the aircraft acquired from this purchase were not up to the corporate standard of Jet Airways! Mr. Goyal also launched Jet Lite the same year, a low-cost subsidiary of Jet Airways, but sadly this move ended up hurting the company's revenue more than expected.

Photo by AeroNewsX/Paul Schmid.

In 2013 Jet Airways was almost close to running out of cash, but after the Indian Government allowed FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the aviation sector, Etihad Airlines came to the rescue, buying 24% of shares in the airline. As part of the deal, Etihad also bought three pairs of Jet Airways' landing slots at London's Heathrow airport and a 51% stake in Jet Airways' frequent flyer program.

At this time the LCC's in India like Indigo, SpiceJet and Go Air had started to take over a major chunk of passenger market share. In order to compete with this growing threat, the airline had to reduce its ticket prices drastically without reducing the expensive services it offered and ended up merging Jet Airways & Jet Lite. Already bleeding, and in order to raise more funds, Jet Airways put its top official in search of an airline which would take its wide body aircraft on lease. This created a major distraction as they were hired to manage the company, and ended up spending their time on the task. Due to this, Jet Airways ended up losing its focus on the market.

By August 2018 the actual trouble began as its loans mounted to Rs3,200 crore and it had been defaulting salaries for its staff and repayments for a long time. It was expected that Etihad would infuse funds, in order to keep the airline afloat, but after a board meeting, it was clear that this wouldn't occur.

Photo by AeroNewsX/Célian Génier.

That same year, Mr. Naresh Goyal set out to find a new investor. At that time, he had got a positive response from many companies and individuals. Delta Air Lines, for one, was very keen on investing on the Indian Carrier, but Mr. Naresh Goyal's offer was quite expensive. The Tata Group was also highly interested in investing in the Indian Aviation Market and also showed its interest but had a condition that Mr. Naresh Goyal would resign from the board of members. He turned down that offer.

In March the airline was in desperate need of cash, Lessors had started to take back their aircraft, it owed a huge amount to AAI & Petrol companies and had already grounded half of its fleet, canceling more than 1000 flights a day. On March 25th 2019, Goyal announced that he and his wife Anita had stepped down from the board of Jet Airways and that the bank would take control of the airline having promised to inject over 100 million USD into the airline. Despite of all these efforts, however, nothing could save the carrier and it was completely out of money. A sad decision was taken by the board, with Jet Airways temporarily suspending its operation until a new buyer was found.

The last flight S2 3502 which flew from Chandigarh to Mumbai was a very emotional one to many of the airlines' loyal passengers and crew members, having tears in their eyes as they departed from the aircraft and hoping that this mighty airline might still take to skies again. The airline as of now awaits a buyer with its fate still being is unknown

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