New Delhi: Jet Airways seems to be crashing, with its founder Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal stepping down from the board of directors. Jet owes lessors Rs 8414 crores and currently has a negative net worth of Rs 7242 crores. Reports suggest 150 senior commanders and 110 commanders and co-pilots have opted to join SpiceJet, leaving the airline high and dry. Pilots have been calling in sick, miffed about unpaid salaries. Due to the severe cash crunch, Jet has been defaulting on salaries for senior management, pilots and engineers since August 2018. But Jet wasn't always in such bad shape. In fact, it was the market leader at one point of time, and was also touted to be the undisputed king of aviation. And many claim it has to do with former civil aviation minister Praful Patel's backing.

Also read: Jet Airways financial mess claims founder’s job: Naresh Goyal steps down

Praful batted for Jet's route

The year was 2006, the month was November. The then civil aviation minister Praful Patel went out of his way to bat for the Naresh Goyal-led airline. He claimed the proposed flight to USA was being "unnecessarily delayed". He claimed, the delay was due to unfounded security concerns. He had said, "If Jet is security cleared in India, why are we unnecessarily dragging our feet. Having given clearance to operate in India after due clearance from the home ministry, why is its flight to (the) US being delayed?" He didn't stop at that. "For us, India's security concern is of utmost importance.If an airline has been security cleared for domestic operations, I don't see any reason for any other nation to doubt it." Interestingly, at the time, the Goyal-owned airline was seeking slots from the government for mounting flights to New York, San Francisco, and a few other destinations.

 'Has worked as a minister for Naresh Goyal'

Ministers do bat for the sector or for measures that may benefit the sector, but for a minister to bat for a private company and so openly was unprecedented. In fact, allegations against Patel was also captured in the infamous Radia tapes where former JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP called Patel 'a Minister For Naresh Goyal’. Published by the Outlook magazine, the purported conversation between lobbyist Niira Radia and Singh was scathing on Patel. Radia is heard asking, "But he (Patel) has destroyed the sector. I am sorry....I do have a view on this. He hasn’t done justice to the sector." Then Singh is heard replying, "I think he has worked as a minister for Naresh Goyal (Jet Airways)."

MyNation tried to contact Patel but in vain. The copy will be updated as and when he responds.