Jet Airways sale back in play

Jet Airways, an important player in the Indian air cargo market before Indian aviation authorities shut it down, is receiving renewed interest from potential buyers.

Authorities grounded Jet, which operated 37 routes across India and 19 international routes, in April because of an acute cash crunch. The carrier handled about 10-15% of air cargo in India, according to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The flight ban affected the entire Indian air cargo market, spurring increased pricing for shippers over the short and medium term. Some forwarders initially had to either route cargo through multiple flights to a destination city or opt for slower surface transport.

Synergy Group, which owns a portfolio of airlines in South America, recently placed another bid for the carrier. Also expected to show interest in acquiring Jet are Hyderabad-based aviation ground handler Turbo Aviation, a Dubai-based fund and London-based conglomerate Hinduja Group, according to press reports in India.

Synergy had emerged as the sole potential buyer for Jet prior to November. A major sticking point on the proposed sale is clarity on Jet’s slots. In late August, India’s civil aviation agency extended the temporary allocation of Jet’s slots and bilateral foreign flying rights to other airlines until December, pending the outcome of a proposed sale of the carrier.

After several previous extensions, Jet’s lenders have drawn a line in the sand, setting Jan. 15 as the final deadline for submitting expressions of interest. Lenders were considering liquidation if they did not receive bids by the deadline.

India’s foreign direct investment laws cap investment in a local airline by a foreign carrier at 49%. Also, control of the airline must rest with Indian promoters, and a majority of board members must be Indian citizens.