The issue of Jet Airways’ allocation of airport slots could be resolved within the next fortnight, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) was informed on Monday.
The Mumbai bench of the NCLT was informed by the counsels for the winning bidders for Jet Airways, the UAE-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan and UK-based Kalrock Capital that ministry of civil aviation (MoCA), and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), hoped for an amicable resolution to the issue after a series of meetings.
The two-judge Mumbai NCLT bench of Janab Mohammed Ajmal and V. Nallasenapathy will next hear the case on April 15.
The Mint reported that Lawyers representing the Jalan-Kalrock consortium had at the previous hearing on March 24 sought the NCLT’s permission to enter into discussions with the civil aviation regulator DGCA on restoring airport slots of the airline. The MoCA and DGCA had then sought time from the NCLT to deal with the affidavit submitted by Jalan-Kalrock consortium regarding the allotment of slots.
Affidavit Yet to be Filed
On Monday, the NCLT was informed that the ministry and the DGCA haven’t filed the affidavit the court has earlier asked them to submit, with a view that further meetings between the counsels of the consortium and MoCA/DGCA will resolve the issue of slots.
The NCLT was also informed that MoCA and DGCA had appointed a nodal officer to address the issue of slots with the resolution applicant, with both sides optimistic of a resolution of the issue in coming weeks.
Jet Airways will have to Apply Afresh
DGCA and MoCA had in March told the NCLT that the consortium will have to apply afresh for airport slots that were taken away from it when the airline was grounded in April 2019. Lawyers representing the DGCA and MoCA then said no slot was immediately available, but an application submitted by Kalrock-Jalan consortium will be considered.
The winning bid for Jet Airways submitted by Jalan-Kalrock is currently before the bankruptcy court for approval.
In October 2020, a committee of creditors (CoC) of Jet Airways had approved the revival plan submitted by the Kalrock-Jalan consortium. The consortium has proposed to invest Rs600 crore in the first two years in the grounded airline to repay creditors and acquire an 89.79% stake in the carrier.
The landing and take-off slots of Jet Airways, which have been redistributed to other airlines—with some of them at the country’s busiest airports such as New Delhi and Mumbai—are in high demand. Having slots allows a scheduled airline to carry out landing and departure at an airport during a specific time period.
A recent column in moneycontrol said that at its peak, Jet Airways along with its subsidiary Jetlite operated nearly 110 daily domestic departures from Mumbai. That happened to be the only major airport where it had an edge over IndiGo, which then operated around 96 daily domestic departures.
The government initially allotted the slots on a temporary basis to other carriers and it was linked to additional capacity being inducted. Airlines like Spicejet and Vistara gained the most and AirAsia India which until then operated red-eye flights from Mumbai hit a jackpot with flights across the day.
The column explained that slot allocation and distribution can at best be described as opaque. While airports like London Heathrow allow grandfathered slots to be sold, most other airports do not allow the transfer of slots to other airlines at a price.
The government, in its classification as ‘temporary,’ had never assigned a timeline to how long the slots would be held in anticipation of Jet Airways coming back and what would happen to the planes which have been inducted by other airlines if the slots are given back as is to Jet Airways.