Curtains seem to be finally drawing on debt-ridden Jet Airways as it has extended the suspension of its international operations till Monday, news agency PTI quoted airline sources as saying.
Incidentally, the stake sale bid invited by the SBI- led consortium of bankers, which manages the day-to-operations of the airline, also closes by the end of the day Friday, after being extended by two days.
Airline founder Naresh Goyal, the UAE carrier Etihad Airways, Air Canada and the country's national investment fund among others are reported to have submitted bids, according to media reports.
On Thursday, the once-leading carrier had grounded its services to and from the East and Northeast regions as well as suspended its international operations for a day.
Consequently, many passengers were left stranded at the airports.
The sources said the airline now owes more than Rs 3,500 crore to passengers on account of flight cancellations alone.
As of Thursday noon, the airline operated just 14 planes-- way down from 123 planes in operations at the peak.
The drastic measure was announced after the airline informed the exchanges that it was forced to ground 10 more planes due to non-payment of rentals to the lessors.
Meanwhile, Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday directed civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to review issues concerning Jet Airways, which has been operating with less than 10 planes.
The government has tried to rescue the airline, fearing job more losses ahead of the hustings, which has seen the banks led by state-run State Bank agreeing to bail out the career by acquiring majority stake.
In the eventuality of Jet going down, it will be the seventh airline to shutter operations in the past five years as operators like Air Pegasus, Air Costa, Air Carnival, Air Odisha, Air Deccan, and Zoom Air went belly up.
The government rules stipulate an airline must have at least 20 planes for operating international operations.
Of the 14 aircraft that it operated till Thursday evening, eight were wide-body B777s (seven) and an A330-- generally used for long-haul international operations.
The remaining six planes were, three B737s, which are largely used for flying on domestic routes besides on short- haul international destiantions and the rest three are regional ATRs.