AAI has been making repeated attempts to recover the dues from these airlines.
The top four private airline operators in India together owe more than Rs 200 crore to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) as on December last year and the AAI has been making repeated attempts from time to time to recover these dues from these airlines. Almost 50% of the total dues are owed by the profit-making IndiGo that owes a little over Rs 99 crore to the AAI. Incidentally, IndiGo also has the largest market share with over 40% in the domestic sector, while other airline giant Jet Airways, with the second highest market share in domestic operations and the highest market share in international operations by an Indian carrier, owes over Rs 41 crore to the AAI.
Even SpiceJet, which recently witnessed the biggest turnaround in the history of the aviation industry and has successfully managed to capture over 12% of the domestic aviation market share, also owes around Rs 17.5 crore to the AAI. Budget carrier AirAsia, which commenced its operations in India in 2014 in a joint venture with the Tata group, owes over Rs 45 crore to the state-owned airport operator.
According to data submitted to the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, these four airlines together owe precisely Rs 203.9 crore to the AAI, as on 31 December last year. All airlines are required to pay certain charges to the airport operator for using the facilities at the airports, that includes traffic and non-traffic facilities. While traffic facilities include the Air Traffic Control, operations and other such facilities, non-traffic facilities include ground handling, parking and other such operative infrastructure at the airport.
However, airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet have denied owing any such money to the state-owned airport operator.
In a written reply to The Sunday Guardian, spokesperson for IndiGo said, “IndiGo owes no payments which are overdue to the Airports Authority of India. IndiGo has always made all its payments within the due date.” Spokesperson for SpiceJet has also said that the amount being mentioned is not overdue and is being paid through daily business. SpiceJet spokesperson told The Sunday Guardian: “The amount mentioned is not overdue and is incurred in the normal course of daily business. SpiceJet has been paying all dues to AAI on or before due dates. Moreover, SpiceJet also has a security deposit of Rs 103 crore with AAI in the form of a bank guarantee.”
Spokesperson for Jet Airways also maintained that no such overdues are pending with the AAI and such transactions are a routine business of the airline operator and airport operators. “All our dues to AAI are current and are well within the prescribed credit period. Further, all these dues are well within the security deposit provided by the company to AAI,” spokesperson for Jet Airways said.
However, the AAI has maintained that these airlines owe money to the AAI for using their facilities at various airports across the country and, according to sources, some amounts have been pending for years with these airlines. The official spokesperson of the AAI told The Sunday Guardian, “The figures provided by the Minister to Parliament are absolutely correct. Several airlines owe money to the AAI for using our facilities and some are not paid for years. We have also been sending them reminders and charging them penal interests for delaying payments. At times, even legal actions are taken for defaulting.”