Jet Airways: Indian airline cancels all flights amid financial turmoil

Simon Calder, Cathy Adams
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Jet Airways: Indian airline cancels all flights amid financial turmoil

The major Indian airline Jet Airways has suspended all operations after failing to secure emergency funding from its lenders.

Its demise was announced on Wednesday evening in Mumbai, its home city.

All flights, both international and domestic, have been cancelled. The last Jet flight will operate today.

In a statement, Jet said that it hadn’t managed to secure the emergency funding for “critical services” such as fuel to keep the airline flying.

“Over the last several weeks and months, the company has tried every means possible to seek both interim and long-term funding,” it said.

“Unfortunately, despite its very best efforts, the airline has been left with no other choice today but to go ahead with a temporary suspension of flight operations.”

Jet said it would inform all customers that their flights were cancelled.

The airline, which has been operating for 25 years, has debts in excess of 80bn rupees (£885m).

On Friday the airline suspended international flights, including its three daily flights to and from Heathrow: twice-a-day to Mumbai and once-daily to Delhi.

At the time Jet Airways insisted it was merely pausing while a financial rescue was arranged. Politicians were under intense pressure to provide 15bn rupees (£165m) in emergency funding to keep the airline aloft.

The collapse leaved hundreds of thousands passengers stranded and many more holding worthless bookings for future travel.

While rival airlines will come in with “rescue fares” to assist travellers who need to get home, Easter is a very busy time for travel and there are limited seats available on direct flights between the UK and India.

For the past week, Jet Airways has been assuring passengers they will be rebooked on future flights or get a full refund. Both look like empty promises.

The slots used by Jet Airways for its Heathrow flights were transferred on Friday to Etihad Airways. The Abu Dhabi-based airline owned 24 per cent of the failed carrier. It is one of a series of disastrous investments in failing carriers made by Etihad.

Passengers holding forward bookings with Jet Airways will need to talk to the travel firm that sold them the ticket or, if they booked direct with the airline, the credit card company.

Travellers who are owed money by Jet Airways for compensation after delays or cancellations are now unsecured creditors, and are unlikely to see any cash.

The same applies to stranded passengers who were urged by Jet Airways staff to buy expensive alternative flights on other airlines with a promise of a refund, or who paid for hotels on the understanding that they would be recompensed.

Passengers with insurance against the failure of a scheduled airline or travel supplier should be able to get recompense.

Travellers who booked through Virgin Atlantic on a “codeshare” Jet Airways flight will be refunded or offered alternative flights.