SpiceJet resumes 75 flights after oil firms supply fuel

By: |
December 18, 2014 8:29 AM

SpiceJet operated approximately 75 flights after 4 pm on Wednesday, out of its schedule of about 230 flights each day.

An employee of SpiceJet Airlines speaks with a passenger at the ticket counter at an airport on the outskirts of Agartala, Tripura. (Reuters)An employee of SpiceJet Airlines speaks with a passenger at the ticket counter at an airport on the outskirts of Agartala, Tripura. (Reuters)

Cash-strapped SpiceJet spilled more trouble onto its passengers on Wednesday by remaining grounded for more than 10 hours for want of money to pay the oil companies for fuel.

The airline operated approximately 75 flights  after 4 pm, out of its schedule of about 230 flights each day.

Not a single SpiceJet flight in its entire network took off since early Wednesday morning till about 4 pm, after the oil companies refused fuel supplies to the carrier for non-payment of their dues.

The civil aviation ministry had on Tuesday asked the oil companies and airport operators to extend a 15-day credit facility to SpiceJet in an attempt to save the airline from shutting down, also at the same time asking the airline to commit capital infusion at the earliest.

The oil companies resumed fuel supply after cash payments were made by the airline, enabling it to resume operations partly after 4 pm.
“Flights that were cancelled earlier in the day remain cancelled. Flights scheduled to depart at 4 pm or later are operating today,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

One of the original SpiceJet promoters, Ajay Singh, met civil aviation secretary V Somasundaran late on Thursday evening, sparking speculation over the possibility of Singh investing in the carrier once again.

SL Narayanan, CFO of the airline’s parent company Sun Group, told PTI, “We need some breathing time …if we get a reprieve from the banks and Mr (Kalanithi) Maran is ready to give guarantee we can restart the engine. Once the collection starts coming in, we will pay(the dues).”

A Reuters report quoted Narayanan as saying that the Sun Group did not have the funds to bail out the airline. “We do not have the liquidity to invest large sums at this time, which is why we need bank financing for which the promoters (main shareholders) are willing to provide a guarantee. We cannot do more than this,” the Reuters report said.

The airline has total liabilities of Rs 2,000 crore, which include dues to the public sector oil firms and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), forcing SpiceJet to cut capacity since July.

While it operated 345 daily flights in July, it came down to 232 as on December 8.

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