Multiple SpiceJet aircraft were stopped from operating by Air Traffic Control at the Delhi airport on Friday, May 20 morning as the airline didn’t make the requisite daily payment to the Airport Authority of India.
Sources said that Air Traffic Control, which is an arm of AAI, was instructed not to give clearance to the airline’s aircraft to take off as the payment was not made. AAI has put SpiceJet on “cash and carry” mode since 2020, due to the airline’s inability to clear airport dues.
Cash and carry mode implies that the credit facility by the AAI has been withdrawn because SpiceJet could not clear dues and now they have to make daily payments for airport user fees to the AAI to continue operations. SpiceJet has to pay cash upfront for the use of airports.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said that the daily payment failed due to a technical glitch in SAP – the software through which the airline makes payment.
“The automatic daily payment could not be processed. The same is being made manually to AAI which has been apprised of the issue. SpiceJet’s flight operations are now continuing normally,” he said.
Flight tracking website said that almost twelve take-offs of SpiceJet in the early hours of Friday, May 20 were delayed by as much as 90 minutes.
For the nine months ended December 2021, SpiceJet had reported a consolidated loss of INR 1,259 crore due to rising operating expenses. It had a loss of INR 773 crore in 9MFY21. Total revenue from operations grew 44% year on year to INR 4,733 crore from INR 3,283 crore.
Airlines with weak financials and also significant dues are routinely put on cash-and-carry — meaning denied credit facility — by oil and airport companies. SpiceJet sources claim the airline’s dues to AAI have substantially been cleared in the recent past. Comments from AAI were sought and are awaited.
(With Inputs from Business Standard)