More aircraft of beleaguered private carrier Jet Airways have been grounded, mainly due to non-payment to lessors, taking the total number to 49, senior DGCA official said Thursday.
"At this moment, they (airline) have 70 aircraft that are operational. At early December, they were operating 100 aircraft," a Directorate General of India Aviation (DGCA) official said.
According to Jet Airways website, the airline has over 119 aircraft in its fleet.
The "remaining 49 aircraft are grounded" and the airline has been told to ensure that passengers do not suffer because of flight cancellations resulting from this situation, the DGCA official said.
Jet Airways has been maintaining since February 7, when it announced the grounding of four planes, that it is actively "engaged" with all its aircraft lessors and regularly provides them with updates on the efforts undertaken to improve its liquidity. Since then, it has been grounding aircraft in tranches.
The DGCA official said Thursday that the airline has been told that "in case the flights are being cancelled, the passengers should be properly compensated or given the alternative flight. We should not be receiving any complaints regarding that."
The official described the situation as "dynamic", indicating more aircraft of Jet Airways could be grounded.
The Indian aviation watchdog official added Thursday that the airline has been told that only "air worthy" aircraft, which are completely fit for flying, should be used in operations. "Only those aircraft will fly those are air-worthy and safe to fly," he added.
The official added that Jet Airways has been told to "get their schedule approved in advance so that the passengers are informed and the flights that you are not running will be removed from your website".
"Within the airline, we think everybody understands that this is the time to stick together and help it out. We generally worry that the pilots will suffer from fatigue. But when only 70 aircraft are flying, we can say that the pilots are engaged properly," he said.
Chief Financial Officer of Jet Airways Amit Agarwal had on February 15 said that as on December 31, 2018, the gross debt of the airline was Rs 7,654 crore or USD 1.09 billion dollars.
On February 14, financially-stressed Jet Airways reported a stand-alone net loss of Rs 587.77 crore for the third quarter ending December 31, owing to higher fuel cost and rupee fall.
The January data of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) showed that the market share of IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, GoAir and Air Asia stood at 42.5 per cent, 13.3 per cent, 11.9 per cent, 8.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent, respectively.