Jet Airways has landed in bankruptcy proceedings at NCLT and it’s highly unlikely it will fly anytime soon. It's just another modern aviation crash that has been sighted in many parts of the world. In India, it may be the 13th airline to go under after the skies were opened up in the 1990s. Having been built up at the expense of national carrier Air India with plenty of help from several governments, it's a pity that the aircraft of the behemoth should lie grounded for over three months. The resolution plans talked about prior to the elections, when further job losses were seen as anathema to the India growth story, set off a false sense of optimism that global suitors like Etihad and the Hindujas would play Galahad.
Irrespective of what short haircuts lending banks like SBI may take in a bid to let the airline fly again, the fact is that Jet’s days as India’s premier airline were numbered. They were cut further by budget airlines dotting the Indian skies, while older ones just dabbled in the idea without knowing that competing meant they had to be as lean and mean as well. The key lesson to be learnt in the unravelling of the Jet story is that there's no such thing as a free ride at the cost of public funds. Air India may continue its profligate ways as it's the national carrier offering privileges to politicians and bureaucrats, but the nation can't afford to underwrite a second gigantic airline with public funds. The lot of the Jet staff — owed Rs 3,000 crores in back pay — is pitiable, but the nation's exchequer can’t pay for humongous failures in private enterprise.