Cash-strapped Jet Airways, which today reported a whopping Rs 13.23 bn of net losses for the June quarter due to higher fuel cost, falling rupee and low fares, said it will monetise loyalty programme JetPrivilege and wet-lease some of its small aircraft to mobilise urgent working capital.
This is the second straight quarter of losses for the Naresh Goyal-run airline, which had last month publicly admitted to cash-flow issues. The airline had booked net profit of Rs 535 million in the year-ago period, while in the March quarter it had reported net losses of Rs 10.36 bn.
The airline said it fuel cost soared 53 per cent to Rs 23.32 bn in the quarter, while low fares had revenue inching up to Rs 60.66 bn from Rs 59.53 bn.
On a consolidated basis, the net loss stood at Rs 13.26 bn, against a net profit of Rs 580 million a year ago.
The second back-to-back quarterly loss forced Jet Airways, which delayed the result announcement on August 9 indefinitely, to announce a turnaround plan which, according to chairman Goyal, includes a capital infusion by selling a stake in JetPrivilege, and a massive cost-cutting to save around Rs 20-bn over the next two years.
"The board today considered two significant proposals: infusion of capital and monetisation of the airlines' stake in the loyalty programme," Goyal said.
It can be noted that the airline owns 49.9 per cent in
JetPrivilege and the rest are with its equity partner Etihad, which owns 24 per cent stake in the airline.
Goyal expressed the hope that these two measures "bode well for the long-term financial health and sustainability of the airline."
Cost cutting covers various areas of operations such as maintenance, sales and distribution costs, fuel bill, reducing debt to save on interest and enhancing manpower productivity with a special focus on the crew, the airline said.
The board also approved the management plan to wet- lease some of its ATRs which are currently deployed on short-haul routes.
The airline was earlier scheduled to announce the June quarter numbers on August 9. But after the AGM and the board meeting, the airline informed that exchanges that the board did not consider the accounts as the company's audit committee was headless.
"The management wanted more time to look at the accounts and the board agreed to that" the airline told the exchanges, resulting in a slew of regulatory queries.
Reportedly private equity firm TPG Capital is looking to snap up a stake in JetPrivilege, and the airline has reportedly appointed Morgan Stanley to advise it on the deal.
Blaming the massive spike in operational cost to spiralling ATF prices, which jumped 53 per cent in the quarter, the airline noted that crude rose more than 36 per cent during the reporting period, On top of it is the continuing depreciation of the rupee, which during the quarter lost around 6 per cent.
"This has resulted in a mismatch between high fuel prices and low fares, which primarily undermined our performance in the quarter," the airline said.
"We are implementing a host of measures to reduce cost and grow revenue, while retaining our focus on our guests, which will help in addressing the challenges faced by us. In fact, several such transformation initiatives have already started to deliver positive results," chief executive Vinay Dube said, adding the induction of fuel-efficient B737 Max will help us achieve the stated 8-10 per cent growth plan.
The airline plans to deliver 3-4 per cent growth in revenue per available seat-kilometer through tactical and strategic initiatives around the network, pricing, inventory management and sales, he said.
Besides, the capital infusion and debt reduction are expected to result in significant lowering of interest cost, the airline said, adding it will wet lease excess ATR aircraft, which will result in further improvements to the bottom line.
Significantly, the airline is in talks with TruJet to wet lease up to seven of its 18 ATRs.
A wet-lease is an arrangement under which one airline provides an aircraft, its complete crew, maintenance and insurance.
The airline during the quarter flew four per cent more passengers to 7.38 million over the year-ago period besides registering a 9.4 per cent growth in available seat kilometers over the past 12 months period. It also saw a 7.6 increase in revenue passenger kilometres during the quarter.
After losing more than three-fourths of its value since July first week when Jet Airways had admitted to having flow issues, the airline counter today rose 2.16 per cent at Rs 281.80 on the BSE on a day when the benchmark Sensex soared 1.16 per cent.