Grant Thornton welcomes restructuring milestone for Jet Airways

08 July 2021 3 min. read

Jet Airways might be airborne again by the end of this year – two years after experts from Grant Thornton were appointed as resolution professionals for the airline’s restructuring efforts.

India’s National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved a resolution plan for Jet Airways. The winning bid was a joint effort from London-based asset management firm Kalrock and Uzbekistan-based businessman Murari Lal Jalan, who now own the airline. 

Pulling the strings of resolution proceedings is Grant Thornton Bharat partner and head of restructuring services Ashish Chhawchharia, who took charge when the firm was appointed resolution partner back in July 2019. Two years of grounded planes, crippling debt, over $500 million in losses and ongoing restructuring efforts have now culminated in a favourable NCLT decision, which sets Jet Airways up for a quick restart. 

Jet Airways is set to take-off again

“I think it would be a fair estimate to say that by the end of this calendar year we can hope again fly in the sky,” Chhawchharia told The Bharat Express News on June 22nd. 

In a separate statement, he highlighted: “We are grateful to the NCLT for this favourable order and congratulations to the successful resolution applicant, Jalan-Kalrock consortium. I must also thank my support team from Grant Thornton Bharat, legal advisors AZB, Jet employees and the lenders, without whose unrelenting support and patience we could not have come so far.”

Plan of action

The next steps are to secure slots and a reopening plans within the next three months – a task that involves coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. While this might pose some challenges, Chhawchharia expects the authorities to give Jet Airways “fair consideration” in slot allocation, while other market factors might also help things along. 

“Apart from airports such as Delhi and Mumbai, on preliminary analysis, it appears that other airports have sufficient slots whereas some are likely to expand their capacity,” he said. Reopening efforts after Covid-19 are adding to these capacity expansion efforts in key centres across India.

The next few weeks will be about “facilitating a smooth implementation” of the resolution plan according to Chhawchharia. “The airline has been a national icon and flyers have been eagerly waiting to see it in the skies again. A successful resolution will add value to customers, improve the competitive landscape and create jobs across the value chain.”

External support

Several consulting firms have been involved in the Jet Airways bankruptcy saga. McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group tried to help rescue the airline’s operations late in 2018, and when that failed Etihad came looking in early 2019 for an investment opportunity in Jet – appointing Alvarez & Marsal to conduct due diligence.

Jet Airways creditors also called in EY to audit the airline in April 2019, before Grant Thornton was picked as resolution partner three months later.