Liquidators of Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l) have applied to the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) for a permit to use three of the defunct carrier's B777-300(ER)s as freighters, thus capitalising on increased demand for COVID-19 cargo capacity, The Hindu Business Line has reported.

The resolution professionals (RP) have already secured approval from the Committee of Creditors to reactivate three of Jet's Boeing widebodies. It is understood that the airline would not reconfigure the B777s as makeshift dedicated freighters but rather use them in their existing passenger configuration.

In April, Indian regulators, in the interests of preserving supply chains and allow for the transport of vital medical equipment, granted carriers blanket approval to use their passenger aircraft to transport cargo. So far, Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo Airlines, as well as other smaller airlines, have operated multiple cargo-only flights using their passenger aircraft.

"We would like to make use of the airworthiness advisory circular issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation last month permitting the usage of passenger aircraft as cargo aircraft. All the approvals we had at the time when Jet was operational are in a dormant stage; we would request you to activate those approvals so that we can meet the DGCA's regulatory requirements," the resolution professionals wrote.

Jet Airways has been dormant since April 2019, when it suspended all operations citing inadequate capital reserves. Insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal commenced in June that year and are still ongoing.

The company will remain under bankruptcy protection for the duration of the proceedings as the RPs are trying to find new investors. As such, while the bulk of Jet Airways' aircraft have been repossessed by lessors, the carrier continues to own two B737-800s, one B737-900, and six B777-300(ER)s, the ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows. The B777s are stored at Mumbai Int'l (three), Delhi Int'l (two), and San Bernardino (one) airports.

However, sources said that the Indian authorities have only responded that they will "consider" the request but were "not hopeful it would work". A full review is expected to take as much as a month. In addition, Jet Airways, which reportedly has near-zero cash reserves, would need to secure a fresh injection of capital from its creditors to cover start-up and operational costs before any revenue is generated from cargo-only operations.