“Tariq par tariq, tariq par tariq milti rahi, lekin insaaf nahi mila my lord…insaaf nahi mila.” (Dates after dates I have got, but haven’t got justice, my lord.)

It was not surprising when a Jet Airways employee quoted the famous dialogue from movie Damini to underline the haplessness of those eager to see the airline fly again.

In the movie, actor Sunny Deol had said those famous lines after the court had yet again postponed a hearing, something that has become an exasperatingly common sight in the Indian judicial system.

Little wonder, the three-minute scene has got 49 million views on YouTube.

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The employee, who had shared the line on Twitter, had aptly made the comparison after the insolvency process of Jet Airways faced yet another postponement.

Ever since the airline was admitted to the National Company Law Tribunal in June 2019, resolution professional Ashish Chhawchharia had to call for fresh expression of interest, or EOI, four times. The deadline for completing the insolvency process itself was put off multiple times. In fact, the final announcement on the winner came just days before the October 21 deadline to complete the insolvency process.

The constant delays came with innumerable number of twists. For instance, the September 30 meeting of the Committee of Creditors, which consists of lenders, was cancelled after a ‘legal issue’ was found in the bid presented by the FSTC-Imperial Capital consortium. This delayed the voting by banks on the two bids.

Eight days later, Kalrock Capital had to put out a clarification after a report said it had won the bid. This was even as the banks were voting. And on October 16, when the voting was to get over, there was again a delay, by half a day, after some of the banks asked for more time to poll their votes.

The eventual announcement on October 17, led to Jet Airways’ employees – yes, many continued to stay on – sharing celebratory tweets. One of them said:

The many suitors

Over the last one year, Jet Airways got more than a dozen suitors, including a consortium formed by its employees. There was also a British entrepreneur.

Some of the names that cropped up included Eithad Airways – which held a minority stake in Jet Airways, Hinduja Group, Synergy Group, Apollo Tyres, and Anil Agarwal’s Volcan Investments. Many never made their interests official. Some like Volcan did, but backed out.

Synergy, on the other hand, was one consistent name as the insolvency process dragged on. The group, which had interests in airlines in South America, twice submitted EoIs and had even forced Chhawchharia to put off submission deadline more than once.

It continued to be around when the resolution professional called for fresh interests in May this year. To everyone’s surprise, this time nearly a dozen suitors lined up. These include consortium led by Kalrock Capital and FSTC, who would eventually square up in the race for Jet Airways. Synergy never submitted a bid.

Now that the Kalrock-Jalan combine has finally gone past the finish line, can one hope for no more surprises, delays or twists? No one may risk a guess, especially when all agree that reviving the airline could turn out to be a challenging task.

“The successful resolution process has enabled the chance for the revival of an iconic brand. The new owners have a challenge, but also an opportunity to re-imagine an airline in the post COVID-19 era on a clean sheet. The success of Jet 2.0 will largely hinge on the ability to radically transform its business model whilst leveraging on a brand known for its superior customer service and innovation,” says Manish Raniga, a former executive at Jet Airways and aviation expert.

All eyes are on the new owners.

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