More turbulence seems to be in store for debt-ridden Jet Airways, as lessors to the airline have approached India's civil aviation regulator to de-register 18 aircraft owing to unpaid dues.
At present, Jet Airways' operates 26 aircraft from a fleet size of 119.
According to industry insiders, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is believed to have received requests from global lessors such as Avolon and GE Capital Aviation Services to de-register their aircraft.
"Lessors have totally lost faith in Jet's resolution plan. They are not keen on keeping their aircraft grounded for the resolution program to take place," sources told IANS in Mumbai.
"After de-registration, they might take back the aircraft outside India or lease them to any other airline."
Another source familiar with the development said: "They (lessors) have placed a request with DGCA to de-register 18 aircraft, which includes a request for de-registeration of 11 aircraft and Tuesday's request for 7 aircraft."
The second source said that lessors have approached SpiceJet to lease their aircraft to them.
Last month, lessors had offered around 50 of its Boeing aircraft to SpiceJet under dry lease terms.
The development has been received optimistically by SpiceJet which had to ground 12 of its 737 Max 8 aircraft due to government's safety restrictions.
Currently, the airline operates 26 aircraft which includes Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s, 737-800 and ATRs to various destinations like London, Toronto, Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris, Bangkok and domestic sectors like Mumbai-Delhi among others.
The airline apparently owns 16 aircraft out of these 26.
The development assumes other importance as global private equity firm TPG Capital and international airline such as Lufthansa are among six entities that are believed to have shown interest in the "expression of interest" stake sale process of the debt-ridden Jet Airways.
On Monday, lenders of the debt-ridden airline invited EoI for stake sale in the company to recover their dues worth Rs 8,000 crore.
Sources had said that TPG Capital, private equity firm KKR, Blackstone, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Delta-Air France-KLM are among the companies approached by the lenders.
As per the document issued by the State Bank of India (SBI), the lead lender in the consortium, it offered stake from 31.2 to 75 per cent of the company on a fully diluted basis.
However, it was not known whether ex-Chairman Naresh Goyal or major equity owner Etihad Airways would be selling their stake on a pro-rata basis.
The airline owes Rs 8,000 crore to lenders, led by the SBI. On March 25, Goyal had stepped down from the board of the airline and ceded majority control to the SBI-led consortium.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)