Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) and banks have approached Indian conglomerate Hinduja Group with a proposal to join the bid for Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l), The Times of India has reported.

The conglomerate did not confirm that it would join the consortium and submit a bid but also did not deny it was an option.

"The Hinduja Group is non-committal [on Jet], but will keep its options open," a source said, adding that a meeting with Etihad and the banks has been scheduled for the coming days.

The conglomerate currently owns Ashok Leyland, one of India's largest car manufacturers, Gulf Oil International, and multiple other companies. Founders Srichand and GP Hinduja are thought to be the richest people in the United Kingdom with an estimated GBP22 billion pound (USD28 billion) net worth. The conglomerate tried to partake in the proposed privatisation of Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) and Indian Airlines (IC, Delhi Int'l) in 2001 but did not eventually buy a stake in either of the airlines.

The conglomerate also ran its cargo airline, Hinduja Cargo Services (LF, Delhi Int'l), which went out of business in 2000. It also formed a cargo joint venture with the Lufthansa Group in the past.

Etihad Airways was the only investor which submitted a bid for Jet Airways before the May 10 deadline set by the creditors. However, the bid is highly conditional and requires other third-party partners to participate. Etihad itself is not willing to increase its current 24% stake in Jet Airways. It also requested the creditors to take a 75-80% haircut on the INR85 billion rupee (USD1.2 billion) debt.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is evaluating how to reallocate Jet Airways' international traffic rights. It had recently consulted the issue with other airlines in the country, although their preferences were not aligned.

"We had sought airlines’ views on how to temporarily give Jet Airways' international flying rights to them and will take a decision soon. The guiding principle for us is going to be passenger convenience as per existing air services agreements with different countries," aviation secretary A P Kharola said.