Frustrated by an almost two-year delay, Malta-based Challenge Group - the winning bidder for three parked B777-300ERs of India's long-grounded Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai International) - has threatened to walk away from the deal pending the outcome of a last-ditch appeal before the country's National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

The NCLT's monitoring committee is due to file a response to Challenge Group's appeal on May 17, India's Financial Express reported. The company's chief investment officer, Michael Koish, told business news site Moneycontrol that the judgment would dictate the company's next course of action.

Should there be no headway, Challenge Group would demand the return with the interest of its USD 5.6 million deposit for the aircraft, he told the Financial Express.

"We have now decided enough is enough. If the monitoring committee, including the lenders and JKC [Jalan Kalrock Consortium] that has attempted to block the sale continue to procrastinate, we would sadly walk away from this deal and take our USD5.6 million back with full interest," he warned.

The JKC consortium acquired the rights to buy Jet Airways after its 2019 collapse but has also faced hurdles in finalising the deal, including disputes with creditors.

On March 7, 2024, India's Supreme Court declined to intervene in a case in which JKC tried to block the sale of the three B777s to Ace Aviation, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) of the Challenge Group. The Supreme Court upheld earlier rulings by the NCLT and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), allowing the sale to go ahead. Despite this, there has been no progress in the transfer of the planes, Koish told CNBC TV.

"We don't understand what's going on here. On the one hand, we have the Supreme Court [making] a very clear decision to continue with the deal. On the other, nobody wants to actually do anything productive. We have already travelled to India thrice since last year, including last week, to complete this deal. However, the monitoring committee did not speak to or meet us, so we approached the NCLT on May 2," he explained, hoping the committee's decision will make things clearer.