A revived Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l) will not have recourse to airport slots it had held before its April 2019 collapse and will therefore have to apply for them afresh as would any new market entrant, lawyers representing the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

The decision could have significant repercussions for the airline's new investors, a consortium of Dubai-based entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan and UK-based Kalrock Capital. Jalan previously told Indian media that the authorities had assured him that Jet Airways would gain access to its old slots.

Authorities have underlined that the resurgent carrier has yet to apply for any slots, so, therefore, cannot comment on its application just yet.

The NCLT requested the MoCA to file its statement as an affidavit. Although Jet's creditors approved its takeover by the new investors in October 2020, the court has yet to okay the transaction. Without its approval, the new owners cannot move forward with their plans to revive the carrier.

During the hearings at the NCLT, more details emerged regarding Jalan's business ties and his aviation industry plans, which extend beyond the revival of Jet Airways.

Representatives of the Indian-born businessman told the court that Jalan was in advanced talks with Uzbekistan's authorities over the establishment of a new full-service carrier in the country. According to the preliminary plans, the so-far unnamed carrier would launch with around 25 aircraft, comprising a mix of B737 MAX, A330, and B787 types. It would also focus on connecting Uzbekistan with other countries in the CIS region and destinations in Europe.

Jalan is also in talks about financing the expansion of Namangan airport in eastern Uzbekistan. Final agreements concerning both the airline and the airport project have yet to be signed as the pandemic has delayed them.

Meanwhile, Zee News revealed alleged ties between Jalan and the Gupta brothers, known for their close association with the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. The Guptas have been involved in multiple corruption scandals in South Africa. In October 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa for their involvement in alleged corruption in South Africa under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. According to documents reviewed by Zee News, Jalan and the Guptas have signed at least two joint investment agreements since 2018.

In a statement, Murari Lal Jalan categorically denied any ties to the Guptas and rejected the idea that Jet Airways' bid is a front for them or anyone else.

"The Jalan family has no business relationship with the Gupta brothers of South Africa. In such a situation, it is wrong to associate Jalan and his business with the Gupta family. It would be wrong to say that Murali Lal Jalan would act as someone else's front, so such allegations should not be made. Murari Lal Jalan has no idea what business the Gupta brothers have in India or elsewhere," the entrepreneur said.