'Less than 15 aircraft of Jet currently operational'

Less than 15 aircraft of Jet Airways are currently operational, Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said on Wednesday. Reuters file photo

Less than 15 aircraft of Jet Airways are currently operational, Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said on Wednesday. 

An SBI-led consortium of lenders had taken over the management of the cash-hit Jet Airways last month.

Asked about the active fleet of the beleaguered airline, the civil aviation secretary said here that "yesterday, it was 28".

On the airline informing stock exchanges on Tuesday evening that 15 more aircraft have been grounded, Kharola said the current fleet "would be less than about 15".

However, later in the day, Indian aviation watchdog DGCA said in a statement, "JA (Jet Airways) continues to fly 28 aircraft as on date."

The watchdog added,"The 15 aircraft reported are already accounted for and was only informed to the stock exchange by JA yesterday."

The airline has around 119 aircraft in its fleet. In the last few weeks, the airline has been grounding its aircraft in tranches due to non-payment of dues to lessors.

Regarding funding issues of the airline, Kharola, who was speaking on the sidelines of an event, said, "The issue is between bankers and Jet management. So they are discussing with each other."

The private carrier Tuesday said it has grounded 15 more aircraft due to non-payment of rentals to lessors.

Till last month, the Mumbai-headquartered airline, which is now under new ownership, had taken 54 planes out of operations due to lease rental defaults.

On March 25, Jet Airways' board approved a resolution plan formulated by SBI-led domestic lenders. Under the plan, lenders decided to take control of the airline and make a fund infusion of Rs 1,500 crore.

The aviation secretary said Wednesday that Jet Airways' ability to fly international operations needs to be "examined".

However, later, the airline's spokesperson said in a statement,"Jet Airways would like to clarify certain speculative media reports with respect to the airline's ability to operate on international routes. As informed to the regulator (DGCA), the airline is operating a curtailed schedule with sufficient number of aircraft, and is compliant with applicable guidelines."

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