CHENNAI: With the flak against SpiceJet constantly hitting them, some respite came from Airports Authority of India - as they extended their deadline to enforce cash-and-carry mode by one more week.
Well placed sources at the Chennai Airport confirmed that they had been asked to hold off on tightening the noose on the cash-strapped airline, when the original deadline ended on midnight Tuesday.
This show of goodwill appears to have happened after SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor met top officers in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) to sort operational matters out.
AAI had served the cash-and-carry notice to SpiceJet on December 1 and had given it time till December 15 to either clear their parking dues or pay to use their airports. “We had received word from headquarters late this evening that they should be given a few days respite before we enforce it. So we are going to allow them to operate tomorrow,” said the well-placed AAI source.
Airlines pay AAI charges to operate, park and use bays and airports on a per-flight basis - most of these dues are cleared on a monthly or quarterly basis.
However, what they’ve gained on the swings, SpiceJet may just lose on the roundabouts. Express has reliably learnt that operators who supply Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) to SpiceJet across airports, have sent show cause notices to the airline to either clear dues or bear the brunt of not having topped off gas tanks.
On Saturday evening, a SpiceJet flight that plied from Madurai to Chennai, was stranded on the tarmac for four hours with 59 passengers, as the ATF provider “refused” to fuel the plane, without dues being paid.
Sources at the airport there said that the airline had to pay Reliance to get them to provide fuel to operate the flight.
Sources in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), one of SpiceJet’s largest ATF providers across the country, hinted to Express that a similar situation may just hit the airline hard “within the next couple of days”.
Though ATF prices have plummeted in the last four months globally, SpiceJet’s current financial crisis may possibly worsen if their reduced and battered fleet has to operate on mere fumes.
SpiceJet refused to comment on the issue and said that they were “still running”, for the moment, at least.