Though lenders did not bar Naresh Goyal from bidding for the nearly grounded Jet Airways, they were not anticipating a bid from the ousted founder. Etihad, which owns 24% of Jet, had changed its mind and decided to participate in Jet’s revival plan after Goyal announced his plan to relinquish all interest and control in the airline. In fact, one of the two key conditions by Etihad to invest in Jet was Goyal’s complete exit.
Though most lenders kept Goyal at a distance, it is not clear why they were opposing him tooth and nail. Some lenders had hinted at a fund diversion, without providing any proof. Lenders had done a forensic audit of the airline’s books, but they have not spilled the beans yet.
All we know is that Jet has run up a net debt pile of Rs 8,500 crore, while it owes over Rs 3,500 crore to its lessors and vendors, and another Rs 3,500 crore to passengers for cancelled tickets. Jet had revealed in February that its net debt stood at Rs 7,299 crore as of December-end, 2018.
As every passing day is extremely crucial for Jet to get back to flying, lenders may need to expedite a quick decision. They may go ahead with the revival plan only if there is some hope of mopping up the funds provided by them, at least partly.