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Jet Airways extends suspension of international flights

NEW DELHI: Jet Airways Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube said on Monday that the company has not received interim funding from lenders and would extend the suspension of international flights until Thursday.

The airline, which has debt of more than $1.2 billion, has had to ground over two-thirds of its fleet over unpaid dues to leasing companies.

Jet has been in a tailspin for months. All but around half a dozen of its 119 aircraft are grounded and all international flights are suspended.

Once India’s second-biggest airline by market share, the Mumbai-based firm has defaulted on loans and struggled to pay aircraft lessors and staff.

Thousands of customers have been stranded in recent weeks after hundreds of flights were cancelled, in some cases with little or no notice.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, for whom a collapse of Jet would be a blow as it seeks a second term in ongoing elections, convened a crisis meeting last week, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

Close of play Friday was the deadline for prospective bidders to express an interest in acquiring a 75 percent stake in Jet, which has debts of some $1 billion.

Etihad Airways, which owns a 24 percent stake, has submitted an expression of interest to buy a controlling stake of up to 75 percent, according to media reports.

Naresh Goyal, who founded the airline but quit as chairman last month, has also lodged a bid, as have several private equity groups, newspapers said.

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