CHENNAI: With Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) accounting mechanism working in full tilt to determine exactly how much Spicejet’s outstanding bill is, the figure they’ve arrived at is a shade over `170 crore.
Highly-placed sources in AAI confirmed that the sum owed by the airline had been accrued over the last two quarters, with residual bills and charges from smaller airports.
“There was a certain deposit that the airline had given us when they began services and once we took that into account, we realised that the dues had swollen to about `170 crore. These charges had been built up over the past few months, mostly in landing and navigation charges,” said the source speaking from AAI’s headquarter in Delhi.
Rather frighteningly, this is twice the sum that Kingfisher had defaulted on to AAI a little before their operations ground to a halt in 2012. Airlines often clear their parking, landing and handling dues either on a monthly basis or quarterly, depending on their contract with AAI. Defaulting on fees often prompts notices or even stoppage of flight services, releasing them only on cash-and-carry mode.
But how much does it take just to get a flight off the ground at an airport like Chennai? For a plane like the Airbus A320, the overall package can set an airline back by about `45,000 just to take off and fly to the destination - another set of landing and handling charges will be levied by the airport the plane lands at. This includes everything from fees given to Air Navigation Services to provide flight paths, alerts and landing assistance, while services like landing, parking and halt have separate fees. AAI also levies a surcharge on fuel, by kilolitre.
The AAI source also said that Spicejet’s management had assured them that the dues would be cleared in a phased manner over the next quarter, but their hopes aren’t too high at this point.
In a late development, AAI has been asked to extend the line of credit to 15 days for SpiceJet, with the promise that existent dues will be cleared over time.