Dues of four major domestic airlines — IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and AirAsia India –to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have more than doubled between February and July amid the coronavirus pandemic, senior officials said.
However, the domestic airline that owes the highest amount of dues to the AAI is Air India.
The national carrier’s dues to the AAI increased by 2.75 percent to Rs 2,258.27 crore in this period, the officials noted.
An airline has to pay various charges like air navigation, landing, parking etc to the AAI to use facilities at any of its more than 100 airports.
Both Air India and the AAI work under the Civil Aviation Ministry.
India has six major domestic carriers, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, AirAsia India, Air India and Vistara, which owed to the AAI a total of Rs 2562.04 crore as on August 1 and this was around 10 percent more than on February 1, the officials told PTI.
They said India’s largest airline IndiGo’s dues stood at 41.62 crore on February 1, which increased by 130.6 percent to Rs 95.99 crore in the subsequent six-month period.
The aviation sector has been hugely impacted because of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Therefore, the six major domestic carriers have instituted various cost-cutting measures like pay cuts, layoffs or leave without pay during the last few months.
SpiceJet, which is India’s second-largest carrier, had dues of Rs 65.35 crore to the AAI on February 1, which increased to Rs 132.4 crore by August 1, the officials stated.
Due to non-payment of dues, the AAI had on August 1 put SpiceJet on cash and carry mode, which means the airline has to pay charges daily at AAI-run airports to operate flights from there.
SpiceJet spokesperson told PTI, "SpiceJet remains firmly committed to its obligations. We continue to have normal operations at all AAI-run airports as before.”
Air India’s dues to the AAI on February 1 stood at 2197.6 crore and it increased to Rs 2258.27 crore on August 1, the officials noted.
On July 8, the AAI put Air India on cash and carry mode at airports in Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Chennai and Kolkata for non-payment of dues.
AirAsia India’s dues to the AAI increased from 0.96 crore on February 1 to Rs 18.89 crore on August 1, the officials mentioned.
"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,” the airline’s spokesperson told PTI.
Vistara is only one of the six major domestic carriers which saw its dues to the AAI decrease in February-July period. Its dues were 5.72 crore on February 1 and it fell to Rs 4.31 crore on August 1, the officials said.
Both AirAsia India and Vistara have Tata group as the majority shareholder.
Air India, IndiGo and Vistara did not respond to PTI’s queries on the matter.
GoAir’s dues to the AAI increased from 16.91 crore on February 1 to Rs 52.18 crore on August 1, the officials mentioned.
On August 10, GoAir was put on cash and carry mode by the AAI on its airports because of non-payment of dues.
"GoAir is engaged in continuous discussions with AAI and would like to assure that there is no impact on GoAir’s operations,” its spokesperson said.
"GoAir flights will continue to be operated as normal at all airports. In fact, AAI is holding securities much in excess of the exposure and GoAir has represented to AAI and the MOCA to ease the requirements of securities and release excess securities which will provide some additional liquidity," he added.
The airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad are managed by private companies and not by the AAI.