More than two years after the Kalrock Capital-Murari Lal Jalan consortium began the takeover process of Jet Airways (9W, Mumbai International), they remain unable to finalise the ownership transition with creditors of the bankrupted airline. Now, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), which is overseeing the airline's restructuring and sale process, is being asked to settle a dispute over a relatively paltry INR1.5 billion rupees (USD18.4 million) that is holding up the ownership transfer.

According to the Indian business news portal, Mint, the consortium wants to finalise the takeover and restart of the airline using bank guarantees for the amount. However, the consortium had promised to swiftly pay creditors INR18.5 billion (USD22.7 million) in cash following a June 2021 NCLAT-approved resolution plan, but it has so far failed to do so. Consequently, creditors, led by the State Bank of India, are refusing to hand over ownership of the airline and are now even threatening to start selling some of the airline's 11 aircraft if they cannot recover some funds.

On November 29, the NCLAT will decide whether the USD18.4 million bank guarantee fulfils the requirements of the 2021 resolution plan and orders the ownership transfer to the consortium. "The consortium believes that their bank guarantees worth USD18.4 million are sufficient for the lenders to start the process for transfer of ownership of the airline, the lenders are not of the same view," an unnamed source told Mint.

Following Jet Airways' 2019 bankruptcy, creditors went on to submit over INR78 billion (USD955.2 million) in claims. However, under the approved resolution plan, they will only receive INR4.75 billion (USD58.2 million) between them. The consortium also agreed to contribute a further INR9 billion (USD110.2 million) to recapitalise the airline.

Since receiving the NCLAT tick of approval, payment of these monies has proved problematic. with the consortium and creditors taking differing views on when, how, and if the agreed amounts should be paid. With no operating revenue from flights coming in, there are some signs the consortium is under financial pressure. Last week, the Jet Airways CEO said he would have to start making some hard decisions to conserve cash, including asking some employees to take unpaid leave and reducing the salaries of others.

Disputes over who should pay an agreed amount into the pension funds of former Jet Airway's employees, and another INR1.85 billion (USD22.6 million) due to creditors, are also ongoing. Ahead of the November 29 court hearing, some creditors are reportedly growing increasingly unsure whether the consortium can or will meet any of its agreed financial commitments, whether on time or not.