We can lease out 5 Jet planes: AI chairman

Mumbai: National carrier Air India is looking at leasing five of the grounded carrier Jet Airways Boeing 777s and operate them to London, Dubai and Singapore.

Jet Airways, grounded since last night, owns 10 wide- body Boeing 777-300 ER planes, along with a few Airbus A330s, which it used to operate on medium and long-haul international destinations such as London, Amsterdam and Paris connecting New Delhi and Mumbai.

“We are exploring the possibility of operating five of the grounded B777s on the established routes, hitherto operated by Jet Airways,” Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani wrote to SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar on April 17-the day the private carrier went belly up. PTI has seen a copy of the letter.

The carrier is now under the management control of the SBI-led consortium of lenders, which has offered to offload between 32.1 and 75% stake to any eligible investors and has so received four interested parties-Etihad Airways, the sovereign wealth fund NIIF and PE players TPG Capital and Indigo Partners. The grounding of Jet has caused great inconvenience to the travelling public, said Lohani in the letter. “In tune with to our role  and responsibilities as the national carrier, we would be happy to alleviate this inconvenience by considering the possibility of operating a few B777s,” he said.

He said that the move is subject to approvals and financial viability, and Air India can examine the possibility of taking five B777s on wet/dry lease basis from SBI on mutually agreed terms.