Business Standard

SC dismisses JKC plea opposing sale of 3 aircraft to Ace Aviation


The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Jalan Kalrock Consortium (JKC), the successful bidder for Jet Airways, challengin­g the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order permitting the sale of three aircraft of the grounded airline to Maltabased Ace Aviation.

JKC moved the apex court against the sale after losing the NCLAT appeal. Ace went to NCLAT two weeks ago to expedite the sale of Jet aircraft. The apex court said that they did not find anything wrong with the NCLAT order and that JKC could benefit from the sale of the aircraft.

JKC urged the court to keep the case pending till the NCLAT decided on the issue of ownership of Jet Airways as the order is reserved in the case. However, the court did not entertain this argument. This means that three aircraft belonging to the grounded airline are to be sold to Ace Aviation, ending the final opposition to the sale.

Last December, NCLAT told the Monitoring Committee of grounded Jet Airways to close the sale of aircraft, giving respite to Ace. The company has been unable to take possession of the aircraft since 2022. The aircraft sale was put on hold following a deadlock between the lenders and JKC.

Ace Aviation, which has been fighting Jet for acquiring three Boeing B777 aircraft, told Business Standard that it had to acquire them in six months as the deadline for the conversion of the widebodied planes to freighter aircraft was approachin­g.

Eshel Heffetz, chief executive officer of Challenge Group, the parent company of Malta-based Ace Aviation, said his company had deposited $5.6 million for five aircraft, of which $4.6 million was earmarked for three aircraft in Mumbai. A token of $1 million is for two other Boeing B777 aircraft of Jet in Delhi (for which a formal bid is yet to be completed).

He said Ace Aviation last inspected the assets one and a half years ago and is now planning to conduct another inspection. “The risk is high, for the aircraft and the humid environmen­t don’t help. The value of assets keeps decreasing,” Heffetz said. Chief Investment Officer of Challenge Group, Michael Koish had said that the lesser community is looking at their situation as a sort of ‘test case’ to fine-tune their strategy for Indian airlines.

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