NARESH GOYAL SAYS ETIHAD HAS NO PLANS TO EXIT JET AIRWAYS NOW

Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal has scotched rumours about Gulf carrier Etihad Airways exiting its three-year-old equity partnership and also said he was not looking for another partner.

“We have no plans to sell the stake to another investor. Also, our partner Etihad has no intention to exit their investment in Jet Airways,” Goyal told reporters on the sidelines of the annual general meeting here. The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad had in April 2013 invested Rs 2,069 crore in Jet for a 24 per cent equity but of late there have been plenty of rumours about both the partners not seeing eye-to-eye and looking for other options.

“Our three-year-young strategic partnership with Etihad Airways continues to to deliver synergies across all areas,” Goyal said and added that the partnership has enabled the airlines to carry over a million passengers between India and other parts of world.

In the recent months there have been exploratory discussions between Jet and Delta for a stake sale. Jet has an extensive code share agreement with Delta, which in recent weeks has acquired a 10 per cent stake in Air France-KLM.

Jet has also appointed J P Morgan to help raise funds as it looks to reduce debt. Fresh fund infusion could also help the airline in fleet expansion. The airline has 75 Boeing 737Max on order and its deliveries will begin next June. Additionally, the airline is negotiating for extra 75 planes of the type and the fresh funds could be used for pre-delivery payments.

In his speech to shareholders, Goyal said the company reduced its debt by around Rs 1,902 crore for the financial year ended March 2017 and overall in the last two years the debt has reduced by a third.

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“Operationally, we ran a tight ship. Exercising fiscal prudence, keeping laser sharp focus on costs and adopting a cautious approach to expansion your company (Jet) has has successfully ended every quarter this year (FY17) in profit,” Goyal said. Goyal also announced that Harsh Mohan, chief group support services officer of Etihad Aviation Group would be joining the airline’s board. He will be Etihad’s nominee to the board.

Etihad has two posts on the board which fell vacant following the resignation of its group chief executive officer James Hogan and chief financial officer James Rigney.

Harsh Mohan has extensive experience in the aviation industry covering internal audit, financial planning and controls, business transformation, distribution, strategic cost management and enterprise risk management, having worked with Air Canada, Sabre Consulting and Gulf Air.

– Source