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4 major Indian carriers’ dues to AAI more than doubled between Jan 2020 and Oct 2021

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New Delhi: Dues of four major domestic airlines — IndiGo, SpiceJet, Go First and AirAsia India — to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) more than doubled between January 2020 and October 2021, according to internal AAI documents.

Air India, however, continues to be the domestic carrier with the highest amount of dues to the AAI. As per the documents, Air India’s dues to the AAI have increased from Rs 2,183.71 crore as on January 1, 2020, to Rs 2,362.36 crore as on October 31, 2021.

An airline has to pay various charges like air navigation, landing, parking etc to the AAI to use facilities at any of its more than 100 airports. Both Air India and the AAI work under the Civil Aviation Ministry.

The government had on October 8 announced that the Tata Group has won the bid to acquire Air India. The Centre is expected to hand over Air India to the Tatas in the first half of 2022.

India has six major domestic carriers, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, AirAsia India, Air India and Vistara, which owed the AAI a total of Rs 2,306.59 crore as on January 1, 2020, the AAI documents — which has been accessed by PTI — noted.

The dues of these six major domestic carriers taken together increased by 14.29 per cent to Rs 2,636.34 crore by October 31, 2021, the documents added.

Vistara and IndiGo have clarified that all their dues have been cleared, while SpiceJet said its dues are well within credit limits.

India’s largest carrier IndiGo owed Rs 80.69 crore as in October 2021, as against Rs 33.21 crore in January 2021, they mentioned.

Asked about this, an IndiGo spokesperson told PTI: “As per our records, all outstanding to the AAI as on October 31, 2021, has been duly paid within the due date.”

SpiceJet’s dues with the AAI increased from Rs 69.93 crore in January 2020 to Rs 146.75 crore as on October 2021, the AAI documents noted.

However, a SpiceJet spokesperson said the total dues (of the airline) to AAI as on October 31, 2021 stood at Rs 122.69 crore.

SpiceJet has provided a bank guarantee of over Rs 150 crore, and all outstanding are well within the credit limits, the spokesperson added.

SpiceJet is making a daily payment of Rs 1.10 crore as per the payment plan agreed with AAI, the spokesperson said, adding, “The airline industry has been one of worst hit sectors due to the ongoing pandemic which led to accumulation of charges, while our revenues were down to negligible limits.”

Unlike in other countries, no relief or any waivers were offered by the government or the airport operator on their charges during the pandemic, the spokesperson said.

“In fact, on the contrary, SpiceJet has huge claims of over Rs 170 crore against AAI with regard to wrongful levy of landing charges for Q400 aircraft, damages for accident and loss of aircraft at Jabalpur airport, and damages for accident at Surat airport,” the spokesperson stated.

Go First, which was previously known as GoAir, saw its dues to the AAI increase from Rs 15.62 crore in January 2020 to Rs 39.06 crore in October 2021, the AAI documents showed.

AirAsia India’s dues to the AAI increased from Rs 1.47 crore in January 2020 to Rs 3.58 crore in October 2021, the documents noted.

Go First and AirAsia India did not respond to PTI’s queries regarding the matter of the dues.

Vistara’s dues to the AAI increased from 2.65 crore in January 2020 to Rs 3.9 crore in October 2021, according to the documents.

A Vistara spokesperson told PTI that the increase in dues is purely on account of increase in operations, with a growth in fleet size and number of passengers carried.

When asked how Vistara plans to clear the dues to the AAI, the spokesperson added: “There are no dues outstanding with the AAI, Vistara is current with all airport dues.”