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Jet Airways creditors back small steps towards revival

Creditors of defunct Indian carrier Jet Airways have approved a set of criteria to evaluate proposals from investors to revive the business, amid signs of interest from prospective investors.

Details of the criteria were not included in a statement to the BSE stock exchange, and the insolvency professional, Ashsish Chhawchharia of Grant Thornton, had not responded to a request for clarification from Cirium at the time of publication.

The approval of the criteria follows the extension of the deadline for expressions of interest from prospective "resolution applicants" to develop proposals to rescue the stricken airline from 3 August to 10 August.

Chhawchharia says in a letter posted to the BSE that he received requests from "prima facie credible interested resolution applicants for some additional time" to complete the process.

It is unclear if Etihad Aviation Group and local conglomerate Hinduja Group are among the respondents. Both companies had previously shown interest in investing in Jet before it ceased operations on 17 April, but no investment deal could be reached.

A long-list of eligible applicants is set to be released on 13 August, with a final list of eligible bidders to be released to the creditors' committee on 21 August.

Timing for a decision is unclear, however a decision is expected before 18 September, which is when the National Company Law Tribunal requested the resolution process be completed under a fast-track mechanism in India's bankruptcy code.

A teaser document released on 20 July to prospective applicants shows that the airline still has 12 aircraft in its fleet, comprising six Boeing 777-300ERs, three Airbus A330-300s and three 737s. The widebody jets are under finance leases, while the 737s are owned by the company.

Most of Jet's slots at major airports and international route allocations have been temporarily farmed out to other carriers until the end of the northern winter scheduling season. Theoretically, they could be returned to the carrier if a suitable resolution and revival proposal can be struck before the end of October.

It appears that any successful proposal will require the airline's banks and creditors to take significant write-downs to their debts.

As of 4 July, Grant Thornton had verified claims totalling Rs84.6 billion ($1.2 billion) from the carrier's banks. A further Rs150 billion – mostly form operational creditors, including aircraft lessors – was still being verified, while claims totalling Rs13.8 billion had been rejected.

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