CHENNAI: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) may have had a whole lot more to show in their balance sheet, if six airlines had cleared their dues on time. In a disclosure made in the Rajya Sabha, MoS for Civil Aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma said that a whopping Rs 664.33 crore was due to the airport manager, in parking and handling dues.
Understandably, the major defaulters on the list are the airlines that have made economy flying a reality - Kingfisher and Spicejet. Where the now-defunct airline, promoted by Vijay Mallya, owed AAI Rs 172.69 crore when they shut down in 2012, the interest that this has cost the exchequer is a sizeable Rs 137.27 crore. “Though there are legal cases pending in this regard, it is almost certain that money will never come. The firm has filed for bankruptcy and the planes continue to stand with us,” said an AAI official.
Spicejet, which appears to be fighting fit, after all their financial turbulence last December, owed Rs 236.53 crore at the end of last year. This amount had compounded over time as they had not paid money for landing, parking and navigating aircraft across AAI’s airports. Their dues at privately run airports like Bangalore and Hyderabad are a different story altogether.
A day after the shares owned by Kalanidhi Maran and his co-shareholders were officially transferred to promoter Ajay Singh, Spicejet sent feelers that the money was on the way to AAI HQ soon. In a note issued to confirm that they had settled all TDS payments and pending salaries, the airline’s top brass said, “This is the first major step in our settling our payables to various creditors, which we will do as per mutual discussions and payment plans that are being put together. We have also paid all salaries to our staff, and have started making meaningful payments to our other business partners.”
Spicejet’s COO Sanjiv Kapoor was also on board, adding, “No airline in India has come back so positively in such little time from the kind of situation we faced in December when legacy liabilities combined with a delay to re-capitalization put us in a very difficult position. It is a credit to our staff and our creditors and partners including lessors, to AAI and private airports, to the patience and loyalty of our customers, as well as to the foresight of the Government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation that helped us get some breathing space during that period, that we are now resurgent again.”
Debts owed to AAI by various airlines:
Jet - 28.07 crore
Indigo - 45.73 crore
Goair - 44.04 crore
Kingfisher - 172.69 + 137.27 rore
Notices were sent to Spicejet and GoAir because their dues were far beyond their security deposits