CHENNAI: Big changes may be in store for low-cost carrier Spicejet, now that Kalanidhi Maran has taken a back seat.
But that doesn't seem to have cut any slack with the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The government operator of airports across the country came good on their threat of enforcing cash-and-carry for all of Spicejet's operations, from midnight on Thursday.
"The letter was sent to Spicejet's COO regarding this and all airports have been asked to levy charges from the airline to operate each and every flight," said a top AAI official in Delhi. This basically means that every time Spicejet lands or lifts a plane, charges for parking, landing, operating and so on will have to be paid instantly.
Swiftly executed, this crippling decision was taken because Spicejet's dues had climbed to a whopping Rs 273.8 crore till date, with only a slender Rs 30 crore deposit on hand.
"This is insufficient to handle their volume and hence we have taken this move.
The Ministry is in accordance and has stood by our move to ask them for a surety draft worth Rs 190 crore before any more credit is accorded to them," he said.
AAI has been on the cusp of putting Spicejet on cash-and-carry mode at least three times within the space of the last 30 days. Decisions that were deferred at the last moment after intervention from the office of the Civil Aviation Minister himself.
The Chennai Airport Director confirmed that charges had begun to be collected from Spicejet from Friday morning.
"As per instructions we have begun collecting the levy, but there may be some interim relief coming if they pay the security deposit," said Captain Deepak Shastri, APD, Chennai Airport.
Spicejet sources said that they were gunning hard to get the decision reversed, "We have a fantastic restructuring plan and this has been communicated to the MoCA and to the DGCA. There is a high level of confidence that we can convince them that all dues will be cleared very soon," said the source.