A Rs 550 crore debt to a clutch of banks has come in the way of grounded Chennai-based airlines Paramount Airways from taking to the skies. Paramount Airways, promoted by M Thiagarajan, lost it licence in 2010 when aviation regulator, Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stopped its services for failing maintain the mandatory five aircraft in its fleet. The airline has now missed its earlier target of April to restart its services.
Thiagarajan met Union Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and DGCA officials in the capital in January. But soon after the meeting, six banks that had extended loans to Paramount Airways wrote to the DGCA asking the regulator to not to allow the airlines to commence operations till it settled its dues. Lenders including Bank of India, State Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Bank and IDBI Bank wrote to the DGCA in February. The total exposure of Paramount Airways by all the lenders is around `550 crore.
“Our stand is that Paramount Airways should first make a settlement with the banks before applying again for a licence. There has been no movement in this regard since then. The airline should first settle its dues,” Arun Mishra, DGCA said. In April, the Madras High Court appointed its official liquidator as the “provisional liquidator” to take charge of the assets of Paramount Airways for not clearing its dues.
The company management however has told Express that all debts have been cleared. “It (restarting operations) is progressing and in a month or so we will get started. We have cleared all our debts with the banks and received NOC.”
Paramount renewed its efforts to take off after winning a lawsuit at a British court worth Rs 1,650 crore. It was over a lease agreement payment with GE Capital Aviation Services and Celestial Aviation Trading.
Paramount was also in talks with a number of foreign carriers for foreign direct investment coming at the back of easing of FDI norms in aviation.