Passengers traveling by SpiceJet could face fresh trouble in the near future if the Mumbai airport goes ahead with its threat to stop the airline's local operations if the latter fails to pay the outstanding dues. SpiceJet operates around 30 flights in and out of Mumbai.
The Mumbai airport operator, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), sent a letter to Sanjiv Kapoor, the SpiceJet chief operation officer on January 19.
In the letter, MIAL has warned the cash-strapped airline to pay Rs 2 crore immediately and settle pending dues, mostly consisting of parking and landing fees, by the first week of February to continue operations.
HT has reviewed a copy of the letter, which was also sent to the ministry of civil aviation.
According to ministry sources, the airline owes Rs 20 crore to the MIAL. This includes a bank guarantee of Rs 15 crore, which it has exhausted, and additional dues to the tune of Rs 5 crore against parking and landing fees. "We have asked the airline to respond to the letter before the deadline," said a senior civil aviation ministry official.
The letter added that an existing concession given to the airline to continue flight operations by paying 50% of their daily charges would end by January 31. From February onwards, the airline would have to pay its full charges to take-off and land from Mumbai. "We would like to put if very clearly on record that we do not want SpiceJet to be in an embarrassing situation. It is in your hands only to avoid such embarrassment," the MIAL letter concluded.
A SpiceJet spokesperson, however said that the issue had been resolved. "The issue has been sorted out between SpiceJet and MIAL," said that spokesperson. MIAL did not comment on this statement from the SpiceJet.
The new development has raised concern among the fliers who are booked to travel on SpiceJet flights in the near future. In October 2014, hundreds of fliers were turned away from airports across the country as the cash-strapped airline's daily schedule shrunk from 339 flights to 230 flight-operations in a day. "Fliers have revived their faith in the airline following the recent cash infusion by it co-founder Ajay Singh. But a repeat of mass cancellations seen in the last year could make its turnaround extremely difficult," said a Fort-based agent requesting anonymity.
The airline had committed to carry out smooth operations with the truncated schedule till March-end according to its revival plan submitted to the aviation safety regulator last December.