Whether the slots will be according to the airline’s demand will depend on the order of the insolvency court.
The Kalrock-Jalan consortium — new owners of Jet Airways — has got an assurance from around 30 airports that if the airline restarts operations, 170 pairs of slots can be made available.
However, whether those slots will be according to the airline’s demand will depend on the order of the insolvency court, which is slated to come next week.
Sources said the new management feels it is extremely important that some of those slots are restored or else its business plan of operating Jet as a premium carrier will not be viable.
A slot is the time period granted by the airport to an airline for a scheduled landing or departure.
The early morning and late evening slots at metro airports like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are considered crucial because high paying corporate travellers take those flights for a same day return.
When it shut operations, Jet Airways had close to 700 such slot pairs, including 116 and 214 in prime airports of Delhi and Mumbai.
“A team from the Jalan-Kalrock consortium visited all airports and has been informed that there is no constraint of slots except in Mumbai and somewhat in Delhi.
"Due to the pandemic, the airports expect that airlines will operate reduced capacity for at least two years, which will make slots freely available.
"More slots will be available at Delhi after the new fourth runway is operational by early next year,” said a person aware of the developments.
He added that the airports were waiting for directions from the government on how to allocate those slots.
Sources said that the consortium has indicated that it intends to start with 30 narrow-body and five wide-body aircraft.
A person aware of the new consortium’s business plans said it is extremely important that the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and government recognise the right of the new owners over old slots.
“The aviation business is in crisis.
"If some sort of comfort is not given to the new owners over the availability of peak slots, then why should they invest?
"This is a dampener for the insolvency process. Without slots and bilateral rights, the airline has no assets,” the person said.
The ministry of civil aviation and regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in an affidavit, told the NCLT that the Jalan-Kalrock consortium cannot claim historicity on slots that were allocated to them earlier.
Also, the airline will have to reapply for airport slots and clear all requisite parameters for restarting operations.
The slots vacated by Jet Airways were temporarily allotted to other airlines.
However, the allotments were kept temporary so that they were not wasted by any airline and could be taken back in case of less or non-utilisation.
“Accordingly, no airline was granted historicity over these slots.
"Accordingly, as and when Jet Airways applies for slots, the slots would be allocated among all the airlines without any claim of historicity in favour of any airline over these slots and such allocation of slots would be as per the extant guidelines and regulations,” said the civil aviation ministry and DGCA, in an affidavit.
The bankrupt airline that last flew on April 17, 2019, underwent an ownership change through a successful resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (IBC) laws of the country.
Last year, lenders to the airline approved a Rs 1,000-crore bid by a consortium of UK-based Kalrock Capital and UAE-based entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan to revive and operate the airline.
Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters