‘Jet’s winning bidder cannot claim airline’s original slots’

In a move that casts doubt on the future of Jet Airways, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has told the Mumbai bench of the NCLT that the airline’s winning bidder does not have a claim over the airport slots distributed among various airlines when Jet ceased operations in 2019.

The NCLT is examining the revival plan for the airline submitted by the winning bidder — Murari Lal Jalan and Kalrock Capital Consortium. “The occasion for approval of slots and other bilateral rights will arise after approval of the resolution plan,” the Ministry said in an affidavit submitted to the NCLT. “The RA [resolution applicant] can’t claim these slots as matter of right under the present insolvency proceedings,” it added.

A slot is a permission given to an airline to land at or depart from an airport.

In March 2019, as Jet wound up operations, the Ministry of Civil Aviation devised a standard operating procedure to redistribute the slots held by it at various airports among different airlines to ensure passengers were not inconvenienced.

On Thursday, the Ministry said that during this process, the airlines had made investments in acquiring additional planes to deploy capacity for those slots. Hence, these could not be forfeited and returned to Jet’s new owner, the Ministry said.

“The RA can’t claim historicity on the slots which were allotted to them for winter 2018 and summer 2019 season, as they failed to utilise 80% of the slots allotted to them and stopped their operation even before commencement of these insolvency proceedings,” the Ministry said in the affidavit.

The Ministry added that as and when Jet applied afresh for slots, allocations would be made among the various airlines without any claim of historicity.

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