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The new presumptive owners of Jet Airways, a consortium of Kalrock Capital and businessman Murarilal Jalan, have announced plans to get India’s oldest private airline airborne by summer. This is positive for the aviation sector. It will resuscitate competition, which has been short of oxygen ever since the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines in 2012, followed by Jet last year. While covid may have dampened the enthusiasm of fliers, they can look forward to a more vibrant market once the pandemic gloom lifts.

But restarting operations will be no easy task. Jet needs the nod of our insolvency tribunal and also the sector’s regulator. Assuming these are granted, Jet will need to recover its airport runway slots that were redistributed to other airlines after it ceased operations. At major airports like Mumbai’s, it once had a large share of these, and it’s unclear how many of them it can hope to get back. It will also have to renegotiate contracts with aircraft lessors. Besides, if covid keeps demand for air travel constrained for a year or so more, Jet may find it hard to gain financial altitude. All in all, as Jet prepares for take-off next year, its odds of surpassing its own past heights look steep.

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