The Adani Group is likely to bid for Jet Airways as the airline goes through a bidding process to get a new investor in April, two sources close to the development told FE. The group, with interests in logistics, energy and agriculture, made a foray into airports in February, winning all six bids for operating regional airports under the PPP mode.
The Jet Airways board had approved a management change in a board meet held on March 25, giving operational control to a bank-led interim management committee, as promoters Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal stepped down from the board with immediate effect. The lenders are to initiate the bidding process and call for expression of interest to bid for the airline by April 9. The last date for submission of bids is April 30.
While the Adanis have made an entry into the airport business by winning all six financial bids for airports at Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore and Guwahati airports in February, they had tested the waters earlier too for investing in airlines.
The Adanis had looked at investing in budget carrier SpiceJet about five years back, when the then promoter, Kalanithi Maran, was scouting for a buyer as the Marans wanted to exit the business.
The Adanis have an aviation company based out of Gujarat. In February 2018, one of the Adani kin picked up stake in the Capt Gopinath-promoted regional airline, Air Deccan. The Goyals, as reported by FE, had tapped the Adanis recently for investing in Jet Airways when the interim funding to be made by Jet s foreign joint venture partner, Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad, was getting delayed. Etihad eventually might exit its India investment. An Adani group spokesperson responding to an FE query with: The Adani Group denies rumours of talks with Jet Airways. The speculations are baseless.
However, an airline executive not wanting to be identified, said: The Adanis have been interested in aviation for sometime now. After bidding aggressively for the airports, it s not a surprise that they might look at an airline. They had earlier looked at SpiceJet too, but it did not materialise.
Jet Airways, operating just 35 of its 119 aircraft fleet, is looking to ramp up operations and get a portion of its 54 grounded aircraft released from leasing firms as it awaits an interim funding of Rs 1,500 crore from lenders.
The airline executives, including CEO Vinay Dube, in a meeting with the ministry of civil aviation on March 27 had assured the government that it will operate 75 aircraft by April-end and not allow the fleet size to go below the current level of 35. It will be submitting a fresh flight plan to the government soon.