Jet, SpiceJet promise to clear AAI dues; but what about Air India?

New Delhi: Airports Authority of India has managed to extract a promise of part payment from two private airlines but seems helpless when it comes to sizeable airport dues of Air India. The AAI, which owns and operates most of the airports in the country, has been promised Rs 85 crore payment by Jet Airways and Rs 10 crore by SpiecJet by the end of this week.

Top AAI sources told Firstpost Jet owes Rs 155 crore in airport dues to the Authority whereas SpiceJet owes Rs 85 crore. Apart from the Rs 10 crore payment SpiceJet has promised by the end of this week, it also has a Rs 55 crore bank guarantee.

 Jet, SpiceJet promise to clear AAI dues; but what about Air India?

Representational Image. Reuters.

The promises of part payments, made by officials of both airlines in a meeting with senior AAI members this afternoon, came after the Authority threatened to put them on cash and carry - which means no credit facility and payment of actuals. Airlines have to pay landing and parking charges to airport operators.

The sources quoted earlier said that neither airline has been put on cash and carry because it severely hampers airlines' operations - not only do they have to withdraw from some airports immediately, other problems also crop up.

"We don't want to inconvenience the airlines but at the same time they must be able to clear up their dues. Jet Airways has promised to pay Rs 85 crore by the 29th of this month and another Rs 12 crore by December 10. SpiecJet has a bank guarantee of Rs 55 crore and has promised to pay Rs 10 crore by month end," these sources said.

But what about Air India, the biggest shirker of all? The sources quoted earlier said that state owned airline owes as much as Rs 1700-1800 crore in airport dues. "But nothing is coming from them. Whenever we ask for these dues, these guys just smile but do not respond".

So why not put Air India on cash and carry mode? Why should a long rope be available to one airline merely because it is state owned when the rule book is being thrown at all others which are privately owned?

Earlier, AAI was considering a long term infrastructure bond issue to keep funding its own expansion plans - with the huge AI payout still in arrears, this issue may become critical for the Authority going forward. Currently, AAI is upgrading and modernising 35 non metro airports at an investment of Rs 4,565 crore. While most of them have been completed, work on the rest is underway and obviously needs investments.

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2014 00:19:55 IST