Jet Airways delays $400 mn rights issue

Jet Airways delays $400 mn rights issue

New Delhi, 4 September Jet Airways, India’s top private airline, is delaying a planned $400 million rights issue because of the recent turmoil in global credit markets, its chairman said today.

“It is delayed by two to three months, but we are OK even without the rights issue," Naresh Goyal told reporters at a news conference ahead of its first New Delhi- Toronto flight.

“Banks are still willing to lend, but we have decided to delay it."

Jet’s Airways’ board had approved raising up to $400 million by way of a rights issue in June to finance its expansion and overhaul of Air Sahara, which it bought in April.

Jet launched its US flights in August. It plans to add 50 destinations in Europe and more flights to North America, Goyal said. It also flies to south and south east Asia and London.

“We are seeing very high seat loads in the coming months in our US flights."

Jet has said it is looking at increasing the share of overseas operations to half its revenue by 2009 as the Indian market becomes increasingly competitive.

India’s aviation market is forecast to expand at more than 20% annually till 2010.

Jet has 65 aircraft, including four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for overseas flights. Goyal said Jet was looking at firming up options for seven 777 and 10 A-330 aircraft.

The company expected to finalise plans for a cargo carrier by end-2007 and was talking to potential partners, Goyal said.

“We will then decide whether to do a joint venture or go alone."

Jet is also looking at co-operating with state-run Air India on some overseas routes for flights and other services and starting an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) operation.

Air India launched its non-stop flight to New York in August. UB Holdings, which controls Kingfisher Airlines, has said it will fly to the US from 2008 either with Kingfisher or Deccan Aviation, in which it recently bought a stake. REUTERS