Struggling Jet Airways continues to ground planes.

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March 20, 2019
jet airways grounded

India’s Jet Airways continues to ground planes as it grapples with debts totaling more than $US1 billion.

It has grounded more than half of its original fleet of over 100 aircraft and has delayed payments to employees and creditors such as suppliers and banks.

The BBC reported Tuesday the airline had grounded a further six planes because the airline failed to pay lessors.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has calculated the current fleet likely operates about 140 flights a day compared an average of 650 in March 2018.

Once India’s biggest carrier, Jet Blue has lost market share to IndiGo and SpiceJet.

Recent reports suggest that 24 percent shareholder Etihad, which has financial woes of its own, has told the Indians it will not invest more money in Jet and wants to sell off its stake.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is currently Jet’s biggest stakeholder but recently announced a $US1.28 loss for 2018 to record its third year of losses of more than $1 billion.

READ: Etihad posts another massive loss in 2018

Pilots have threatened to stop work from April 1 unless they get some assurance they will be paid and the airline’s engineers have warned Indian authorities the situation could put safety at risk.

India’s Civil Aviation Minister has asked officials to call a  meeting with the airline to discuss any potential safety issues as well as the groundings and how the airline is handling issues such as  cancellations and refunds

Jet Airways founder and chairman Naresh Goyal told the pilots he would need a “a further short time” to finalize a rescue deal for the carrier.

But an analysis by BBC reporter  Sameer Hashmi suggests Goyal is at the heart of the crisis due to his failure to step down as chairman.

The analysis said this had cruelled rescue deals with Etihad and, more recently, TATA group that could have recapitalized the airline and has been making it difficult to find investors.

Earlier this week,  Reuters reported that the Indian government, which faces elections next month and is keen to avoid massive job losses,  had asked state-run banks to rescue the carrier without pushing it into bankruptcy.

The news agency said new Dehli had urged state-run banks to convert debt into equity and “nudged” its 49 percent-owned National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to buy a stake in Jet Airways.