Etihad will not express interest to reinvest in Jet Airways

UAE flag carrier cites 'unresolved issues' relating to jet's liabilities as reason for ending interest

ABU DHABI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - 23DEC2014 - Jet airways  taxi towards the runway at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Ravindranath K / The National (for stock) *** Local Caption ***  RK2312-AIRPORT41.jpg
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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will not lodge a new expression of interest in India's Jet Airways business "because of unresolved issues concerning Jet's liabilities".

The company had invested in Jet Airways in 2013, buying a 24 per cent stake for $379 million (Dh1.4 billion) "at a time when Jet needed significant financial support", Etihad Airways said in a statement to The National on Monday. The investment was the first made by an overseas airline into an Indian carrier following the lifting of Indian government restrictions on foreign investments into the aviation sector.

"Since then, Etihad has consistently and constructively sought and advanced solutions to help resolve Jet’s issues. But as a minority shareholder, Etihad has had limited capacity to secure required changes," Etihad Airways said.

The carrier said although it had conditionally expressed interest in reinvesting in Jet Airways with an agreed partner earlier this year, "nothing materialised" from its expression.

"Etihad remained engaged in the process, but despite the endeavours of everyone involved there remained very significant issues relating to Jet’s previous liabilities. Regrettably, in these circumstances, it was neither feasible for nor responsible of Etihad to reinvest in Jet at this time," Etihad's statement said.

The airline said that it continued to remain committed to India, which is its biggest single market and one that it has served for the past 15 years.

An extended bidding process for Jet Airways, which was once the country's second-biggest airline, concluded on Saturday.

Reports in India stated that there had been three expressions of interest in Jet Airways, whose flights were grounded in April as the airline struggled with a debt burden of about $1.2 billion.

However, the Times of India reported on Sunday that both Etihad Airways and the Hinduja Group had decided not to pursue their interest in bidding for the airline's assets.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at aviation consultancy StrategicAero Research, said that he was not surprised that Etihad has decided against pursuing a bid for Jet Airways.

"Jet's fleet has been stripped away - there's nothing for Etihad to salvage. The slots are gone, so are the staff," he told The National.

"Jet has been on the ground since April - four months on, the airline is still there, but much less of it. It's dead and isn't coming back."