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Jet Airways lenders 'reasonably hopeful' of successful bids for grounded carrier

Mumbai

LENDERS to India's Jet Airways Ltd said on Thursday they are "reasonably hopeful" that the bidding process for the grounded airline will end successfully.

Jet Airways, once India's largest private airline, on Wednesday evening halted all flight operations indefinitely after lenders led by State Bank of India declined to extend more funds to keep it going.

The carrier, saddled with roughly US$1.2 billion of bank debt, has been teetering for weeks after failing to receive a stop-gap loan of about US$217 million from its lenders, as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.

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At its peak, Jet operated over 120 planes and well over 600 daily flights. The airline, which has roughly 16,000 employees, has in recent weeks been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and to halt all flights out of India as funds dried up.

"The lenders after due deliberations decided that the best way forward for the survival of Jet Airways is to get the binding bids from potential investors who have expressed EOI and have been issued bid documents on 16th April," the lenders said on Thursday, referring to expressions of interest.

"Lenders are reasonably hopeful that the bid process is likely to be successful in determining fair value of the enterprise in a transparent manner."

Jet still has a market capitalisation of about US$400 million, as investors have clung to hopes of a rescue deal being clinched. REUTERS