A Jet Airways India Ltd. plane prepares to take off. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

ICRA Downgrades Jet Airways’ Long-Term Ratings To ‘C’

Credit rating agency ICRA on Friday downgraded cash-strapped Jet Airway's long-term ratings from 'B' to 'C', the second such action by it since October. The short-term ratings have, however, been reaffirmed to 'A4'.

The rating downgrade considers delays in the implementation of the proposed liquidity initiatives by the management, further aggravating its liquidity, as reflected in the delays in employee salary payments and lease rental payments to the aircraft lessors, the agency said.

Significantly, the Naresh Goyal-promoted full service carrier has been in the red since the March quarter of the previous fiscal. Facing severe liquidity crunch, the airline has been defaulting on payment of salaries to its senior staff, including pilots and engineers, since August as well as to some of the vendors.

Jet Airways, in a regulatory filing, also confirmed the rating downgrade by ICRA.

Also read: Jet Airways To Pay Salaries In Instalments To Senior Staff Till April

Instruments with 'C' rating are considered to have very high risk of default regarding timely servicing of financial obligations, as per the agency. These long-term ratings of Jet Airways were assigned by ICRA to Rs 698.9 crore NCDs programme, Rs 4,970 crore of long-term, Rs 645 crore of long-term, fund-based facilities, and Rs 700 crore of long-term and non-fund based facilities.

The 'A4' rating is assigned to securities that are considered to have minimal degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations. Such instruments carry very high credit risk and are susceptible to default.

According to ICRA, Jet Airways has large debt repayments due over the next four months (December-March) of financial year 2019 (Rs 1,700 crore), financial year 2020 (Rs 2,444.5 crore) and financial year 2021 (Rs 2,167.9 crore).

The company is undertaking various liquidity initiatives, which includes, among others, equity infusion and a stake sale in Jet Privilege Private, and the timely implementation of these initiatives is a key rating sensitivity, said ICRA.

Airline Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube reportedly had last month told his pilots that the airline was expecting to have a new investor on board in the next two to three months.

Also read: Jet Airways Seeks $350-Million Soft Loan From Etihad