The move is seen as a clear indication that the government is not hopeful of an early revival of the debt-ridden Jet Airways, which is currently before the insolvency court – National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) – in a bid to find new investors.
Etihad Airways holds a 24% stake in Jet Airways.
According to government sources, the civil aviation ministry has already conveyed the decision on extending the tenure of the temporary allocation of slots by another three months to the concerned Indian carriers.
India’s national carrier, Air India, and private airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Vistara, had been allotted additional flying rights to the Middle East and several other international routes from the quota of Jet Airways in May this year. Initially the allocation was until the end of September.
Aviation industry analysts said the decision to extend the temporary allocation period for another three months would ensure that there would be no spike in airfare to popular destinations such as Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi until the year end, except for seasonal demand-driven changes in fares.
Indian aviation authorities moved fast to allocate additional airline seat capacities to other Indian carriers, after a spike in airfare between India and Dubai and some other destinations in the Middle East, following the suspension of flights by Jet Airways on these routes.
The decision was taken by a civil aviation ministry-recommended committee that consisted of senior officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airports Authority of India (AAI) and officials from respective airports.
Significantly, the move on extending the temporary allocation period of flying rights and slots came after it became apparent that there were few takers for Jet Airways in response to the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) for the grounded carrier seeking interest from potential investors.
Only three investors submitted expressions of interest (EoI) for Jet Airways when the deadline ended on August 10, of which one of them – Volcan Investment, the family Trust of Vedanta Group promoter Anil Agarwal – later backed out.
Etihad Airways did not submit EoI for Jet Airways, which it said was because of ‘unresolved liability issues’ of its partner Indian airline.
The NCLT-appointed Interim Resolution Professional is expected to announce soon the eligibility of the investors who have submitted EoIs for bidding for Jet Airways.