Leasing company Elix has sent a notice to TruJet to ground three aircraft. The Ireland-based lessor has applied to the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the deregistration of the ATRs leased to the debt-strapped regional airline.
According to documents, Elix applied for the Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorisation (IDERA) deregistration on April 5 for three ATR 72-212A registered numbers VT-TMU, VT-TMP and VT-TMK. As per protocol, the DGCA sent a notification to all the necessary parties involved on April 11.
When contacted, Umesh V, Managing Director, Turbo Aviation Private Limited, said, “They (Elix) applied for three, however, only one aircraft is getting deregistered but that also we are trying to get it resolved. We are paying Elix USD 1.2 million.”
He further added that TruJet is in talks with an investor for INR 200-crore funding. “We have received INR 30 crore so far from an investor out of the INR 200 crore. We are expecting another INR 50 crore in the next few days,” he said.
However, a source at Elix told this newspaper he is certain that the DGCA will complete the deregistration process because “the overdue has run now over USD 10 million and dates back to before Covid. The lessors are done with Trujet – any rhetoric from TJ of recovery from here is rhetoric.”
TruJet has been facing an acute cash crunch for over 18 months now. In April 2021, the airline had announced a potential investment from NRI businessman Laxmi Prasad, who had earlier evinced interest in bidding for Air India and Jet Airways. However, there was no progress on that front, too.
The airline has lost most of its top management including the CFO KG Viswanath, CCO Sudheer Raghavan, and CEO Rtd Col LSN Murthy. At least 100 employees, including pilots, cabin crew, and ground staff have quit the company.
Recently, the DGCA approved a summer schedule for airlines in 2022 which was effective from March 27, 2022, to October 29, 2022. This data did not include TruJet’s schedule.
In February, All aircraft of TruJet have been grounded even as the company is struggling to stay afloat due to financial issues. At least five out of seven aircraft have been taken back by the lessors while two others are in the process of being deregistered.
However, in a press release, the airline said it will restart its operations with one aircraft. This too lasted for only a handful of days.
According to the latest air traffic data from the DGCA, TruJet did not operate a single flight in March. Even in February it only had 0.02 lakh passengers.
The figures released by the Parliament reveal that TruJet recorded an operating loss of INR 143 crore in FY21, INR 10.1 crore in FY20, and INR 17.56 crore in FY19.
TruJet began operations in 2015 with a flight from Hyderabad to Tirupati in South India using a fleet of ATR 72s. Over the next couple of years, the carrier expanded its network to various destinations across South and Central India, connecting several small cities under the Indian government’s UDAN scheme.