SpiceJet may have managed to find a white knight in co-founder Ajay Singh, however, lessors and airport operators’ experience with now grounded Kingfisher Airlines have made them sound the alarm bell on liabilities of the budget carrier.
Concerned over rising overdues in airport charges, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has asked SpiceJet to submit a financial plan detailing a schedule to clear outstanding by February 15, 2015. SpiceJet has dues of over Rs 300 crore (including interest) with the authority.
“SpiceJet’s dues with us are now higher than that of Kingfisher’s. KFA owes us Rs 294 crore and we have had to file a court case recently to recover the amount. We have supported SpiceJet as we did not want an airline to go bust. But we will not extend credit to them until they give us fresh guarantees or clear all outstanding”, said a senior official in AAI.
SpiceJet’s dues of around Rs 300 crore are much higher than bank gurantees of Rs 82.5 crore it has given to AAI. The airline has been paying around Rs 25 lakh a day since mid-Jan to avail of landing and parking facilities at AAI-operated airports.
AAI has asked the airline to make daily payments of Rs 50 lakh from January 29, 2015. Daily billing of SpiceJet stands at around Rs 75 lakh.
The official added, “We have scaled up the payables and beyond mid-February, SpiceJet would either have to give fresh bank guarantees for outstandings or clear the entire amount over and above daily billings to fly out of our airports.”
Meanwhile, an Irish aircraft leasing firm Wilmington Trust SP Services has moved the Delhi High Court seeking de-registration of one aircraft leased to SpiceJet for non-payment of dues. B&B Air Acquisition & Leasing Ltd too has appealed before a division bench seeing de-registration of aircraft leased to the no-frills carrier. The court has sought the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) response on the matter. The petitions are scheduled for hearing on 9th and 16th of February.
Sources in the ministry of civil aviation confirmed lessors have met senior officials in the DGCA with requests to de-register 11 of the 19 Boeing 737s SpiceJet currently has. The airline owes about Rs 700 crore to various firms from where it has leased aircraft.
A person close to Ajay Singh said, “The new promoters are in talks with lessors. The matter should be sorted soon.”
On Friday, the board of SpiceJet cleared a proposal to transfer ownership to Ajay Singh. Singh, along with partners, will infuse Rs 1,500 crore in four tranches in the airline by April 30, 2015. SpiceJet has overall dues of around Rs 2,000 crore, of which around Rs 1,400 crore are immediate liabilities.
The new promoters will need to secure clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for any funding from overseas.