Senior officials have reported that the dues of four domestic airlines i.e GoAir, SpiceJet, IndiGo, and AirAsia India to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have more than doubled from February to July in the midst of the pandemic.
However, Air India owes the highest amount of dues to AAI. During this period, the carrier’s dues increased by 2.75 percent to INR 2,258.27 crore.
Airlines have to pay charges like air navigation, landing, etc. to use facilities of the AAI
As on August 1, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, AirAsia India, Air India, and Vistara owed to the AAI a total of INR 2562.04 crore. This was around 10 percent more than on February 1. The officials added that IndiGo’s dues were at INR 41.62 crore on February 1, which increased by 130.6 percent to INR 95.99 crore in the six-month period.
The aviation sector has been hugely affected because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Hence, the six major domestic carriers have implemented various cost-cutting measures like layoffs, pay cuts, or leave without pay during the last few months.
SpiceJet, India’s second-largest carrier, had dues of INR 65.35 crore on February 1, which increased to INR 132.4 crore by August 1. On August 1, due to non-payment of dues, the AAI had put SpiceJet on cash and carry mode. This means that the airline has to pay charges daily at AAI-run airports to operate flights from there. A SpiceJet spokesperson said, “SpiceJet remains firmly committed to its obligations. We continue to have normal operations at all AAI-run airports as before.”
Air India’s dues on February 1 stood at INR 2197.6 crore
This increased to INR 2258.27 crore on August 1. On July 8, the AAI put Air India on cash and carry mode. This was carried out at airports in Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Kolkata for non-payment of dues.
AirAsia India’s dues to the AAI increased from INR 0.96 crore on February 1 to INR 18.89 crore on August 1. AirAsia India spokesperson said, “While we do not comment on specific figures, AirAsia India has been making regular payments of dues to the Airport Authority within the agreed credit period.”
Vistara is the only major domestic carrier that saw its dues to the AAI decrease in the February-July period. Its dues were INR 5.72 crore on February 1 and it fell to INR 4.31 crore on August 1.
GoAir’s dues to the AAI increased from INR 16.91 crore on February 1 to INR 52.18 crore on August 1. On August 10, GoAir was also put on cash and carry mode. “GoAir is engaged in continuous discussions with AAI. It would like to assure people that there is no impact on GoAir’s operations,” said its spokesperson.
“GoAir flights will continue to be operated as normal at all airports. In fact, AAI is holding securities much in excess of the exposure. GoAir has represented to AAI and the MOCA to ease the requirements of securities. It has also requested for the release of excess securities which will provide some additional liquidity,” he added.
The airports in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru are handled by private companies and not by the AAI.