March 18, 2019 / 7:31 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Jet Airways delays interest payments, grounds more planes

(Adds details on Jet grounding planes, background on troubles, and share movement)

March 18 (Reuters) - Jet Airways Ltd said here on Monday it has grounded four more planes and would delay paying interest on maturing debt in a fresh sign of deepening liquidity crisis engulfing the Indian carrier saddled with over $1 billion debt. India's second-largest carrier has delayed payments to its pilots, suppliers and lessors for months and defaulted on loans, as it battles intensifying competition, a weak rupee and rising fuel costs.

The airline said it will delay paying interest to its debenture holder, due March 19, owing to financial constraints.

Jet did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on payment-related details.

Meanwhile, the airline grounded here four more aircraft on Monday, taking the number of planes tied down to 41, or more than a third of its entire fleet.

Founder and chairman Naresh Goyal, who transformed Jet into India’s biggest full-service carrier from its humble start 25 years ago, has said it is charting out a bailout plan, led by state-run banks and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

An official with State Bank of India (SBI), Jet’s largest creditor, said on Friday that a consortium of lenders should reach a final resolution plan to rescue the embattled airline in one week.

Shares in Jet, which fell 15 percent so far this year, were up 0.15 percent, as of 0728 GMT. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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