India is mulling options to save jobs at Jet Airways, including asking low-cost carrier SpiceJet to consider taking over some of the debt-laden company’s aircraft, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The proposal involves SpiceJet, led by chairman Ajay Singh, acquiring as many as 40 of Jet Airways’ grounded planes that are owned by lessors, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as discussions are preliminary. The government has also reached out to other carriers, the person said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to avoid the collapse of an airline that employs about 23,000 people weeks before elections. The need to save jobs at the beleaguered carrier became urgent this week after lenders led by SBI failed to convince Etihad Airways, which owns 24% of Jet, to infuse funds into the carrier.
Earlier on Wednesday, a government official said they were trying to revive Jet by changing its management but any decision on the carrier’s future will be a commercial decision by the lenders.
Lessors have been in discussion with SpiceJet to take over the planes, the person said. Operating 40 aircraft will help employ as many as 250 pilots as well as cabin crew, maintenance workers and engineers, the person said. A representative for SpiceJet didn’t respond to an email, while a spokesperson at the PMO declined to comment.