March 25, 2019 / 2:19 PM / 6 months ago

TIMELINE-Debt-saddled Jet Airways' rescue plan takes off

March 25 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Jet Airways Ltd on Monday took major steps towards closing a rescue deal with its lenders, with Chairman Naresh Goyal and his wife stepping down from the airline’s board.

Laden with debt of more than $1 billion and faced with an evaporating market value, Jet is banking on a bailout by its lenders as it became unable to pay banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors - several of whom have started terminating leases with the carrier.

The banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), will take a controlling stake in the airline, pump in 15 billion rupees ($217.65 million) in immediate funding, and form an interim management committee to manage the airline.

Here are some major developments in Jet’s story:

Aug 3 – Jet denies report that it cannot fly beyond 60 days, and dismisses conjecture of stake sale Aug 9 – Airline defers board meet for first-quarter results Aug 11 – After State Bank of India (SBI) chairman says Jet's loan is on the bank's watch list, Jet says it is regular in payment obligations to all banks Aug 27 – Jet posts loss for the June-quarter, says it will inject funds and cut costs by more than 20 billion rupees in two years Sept 6 – Jet says it paid salaries to 84 percent of its employees after reports emerge that pilots warned 'non-cooperation' over salary default Oct 4 – Rating agency ICRA downgrades here the company's long term loans and NCDs Oct 18 – Report says Indian conglomerate Tata Group is in talks to buy stake in Jet. Jet calls report "speculative" Nov 5 – Report says Tata aims to buy the 51 percent stake in the airline owned by Naresh Goyal, and Etihad Airways' 24 percent stake, and merge Jet with Vistara Nov 12 – Jet posts third straight quarterly loss Nov 16 – Tata Sons says discussions on Jet is preliminary and no proposal has been made Dec 3 - Jet says it will stop providing free meals to most domestic economy class passengers from January Dec 5 - Jet and Etihad Airways have been holding rescue talks with Jet's bankers, sources tell Reuters Dec 6 - Jet tells its pilot union it will clear all salary dues by April, a source tells Reuters Dec 14 - Goyal's penchant for control has come up as a major obstacle as the airline tries to negotiate a rescue deal, several people who have worked closely with him or known him over the years tell Reuters Jan 2, 2019 - The airline says it has delayed payment to a consortium of Indian banks, led by SBI Jan 10 - Jet proposes to creditors that it will catch up with debt payments in arrears by September, and from April will meet debt payments as they come due, according to a document seen by Reuters Jan 11 - Some aircraft lessors were prompted to explore taking back aircraft from Jet, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Etihad is not "in any position to sink new equity into Jet at this juncture," says a person familiar with Etihad's position. Jan 14 - Report states Goyal is likely to step down from the board and give up majority control Jan 16 - TV channel reports that Etihad offered to buy Jet shares at a 49 percent discount and immediately release $35 million. Jan 17 - Top creditor SBI says Jet's lenders are considering a plan to resolve its debt issues, amid further reports that Goyal is willing to invest 7 billion rupees in the airline and pledge all his shares but wants to retain a 25 percent stake. Jan 24 - India capital markets regulator says it has no "view" on relaxing norms for a Jet bailout Jan 30 - Jet denies its aircraft had been grounded by GE Capital Aviation Services Feb 8 - Airline grounds four aircraft after failing to make payments to lessors Feb 14 - Jet's board approves a rescue deal which will make its lenders its largest shareholders and fix a near 85 billion rupee funding gap Feb 21 - International lessors have grounded more Jet Airways planes prior to potentially moving them out of India, as scepticism builds whether a state-led bailout of the carrier can clear their dues on time, sources tell Reuters Feb 23 - Shareholders of India's Jet Airways approve debt-for-equity swap Feb 25 - SBI says reports of taking Jet Airways to an insolvency tribunal to recover loans are "speculative" Feb 27 - Jet grounds 7 more planes as it fails to pay lessors, taking tally of planes hamstrung by the defaults to 13 Feb 28 - Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down as chairman, source tells Reuters. March 8 - Jet's planes to be redeployed elsewhere if the airline cannot gain approvals for a restructuring plan this month, lessor says March 11 - Air safety regulator orders new checks on Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after an Ethopian Airlines flight crash kills 157 people on board. Jet operates five 737 MAX 8 planes. March 13 - India bans Boeing 737 MAX planes from its airspace March 15 - Jet pilots seek government help to recover pending salaries and dues from the airline -- Some lessors of Jet have begun terminating lease deals over unpaid dues and are preparing to move the leased planes abroad, five sources tell Reuters March 18 - Goyal tells the airline's pilots he needs "a further short time" to finalise a rescue deal for the carrier as the process is complex March 19 - India's government asked state-run banks to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election, two people within the administration tell Reuters -- Regulator says Jet is now operating only 41 aircraft, and that could reduce further March 20 - SpiceJet Ltd is in talks with lessors to lease some of Jet's grounded aircraft, a source tells Reuters -- SBI says bankruptcy is the "last option" for Jet, and that it might still be possible to draft in a new investor to keep the airline flying March 25 - Naresh Goyal steps down as chairman while his wife Anita Goyal resigns from the board of directors. Lenders to pump in 15 billion rupees in immediate funding. ($1 = 68.9160 Indian rupees)

Compiled by Arnab Paul and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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