Jet Airways’ CEO Vinay Dube and his deputy and CFO Amit Agarwal have resigned, according to reports in the country’s press.

The news came days after Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways lodged a bid for a minority stake in airline, but made it clear it is seeking partners to help rescue the Indian carrier.

The two top executives resigned within hours of each other on May 14, both citing “personal reasons” and leaving their posts with immediate effect, according to multiple Indian media reports.

Other media outlets have reported more officials had also resigned.  

The departures are the latest move in a saga that has seen India’s second airline go through a slow-motion collapse. The company has been hit by a combination of increasingly intense competition from LCCs and higher fuel prices.  

Jet Airways suspended all flights April 17, after several months when its route network gradually crumbled as the carrier progressively grounded more of its fleet for missed lease payments. Lessors have either repossessed most aircraft or are in process.

Many staff have not been paid for several months. Hopes now rest on a financial infusion from new or existing shareholders that will revive the company.

The airline’s consortium of creditors, led by the State Bank of India, has said that bidders could potentially buy up to 75% of the airline.

In a brief statement issued over the Arabic world’s weekend, a spokesperson for Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said it had “confirmed its interest to re-invest in a minority stake in India’s Jet Airways, subject to conditions.”

Etihad holds a 24% stake in Jet and the Indian market is of major importance to it. For decades there has been a significant flow in workers from India (and elsewhere in the subcontinent) to Gulf nations such as the UAE. Today, India’s fast-growing middle-class population is leading to a boom in the Indian airline market, although most Indian carriers are struggling to turn a profit in what is an increasingly cut-throat environment.

“Etihad has been working consistently with key stakeholders in India over the past 15 months to help find a solution which would ensure Jet’s return as a viable and competitive Indian airline, and continues to do so,” the spokesperson said.

However, he added: “Etihad re-emphasizes that it cannot be expected to be the sole investor, and that, among other requirements, additional suitable investors would need to provide the majority of Jet Airways’ required recapitalization.”

Alan Dron