Airlines’ payment delays squeeze AAI
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The national carrier Air India (AI) and private airlines, including Kingfisher, together owe around R2,200 crore in dues to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), forcing the authority to build pressure on them to clear the dues.
The AAI urgently requires funds to infuse further equity to the tune of Rs 400 crore in its ventures with private airport developers — Delhi and Mumbai international airports (DIAL and MIAL).
"The problem is that on our books, we have the money. But unless the dues are clear, we do not have it in hand. If we have to infuse further equity in the DIAL and MIAL, we have to either borrow or ask the vendors to pay off their dues," a senior official of AAI said.
AAI has written to the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) agreeing to infuse further equity in the GMR-led DIAL and GVK-led MIAL. The decision to put more money in these ventures comes after the civil aviation minister's order on October 16 asking the airport operators to do away with the airport development fee by investing more.
AI alone owes about R1,500 crore. While the airport operator charges 18% interest rate on the dues to other vendors, AI dues remain unserviced.
"They (AI) have assured that the dues would be cleared by December. If that happens, we would not borrow money for equity," the official said.
It is considering many options to recover the amount especailly from Kingfisher and AI. In the case of Kingfisher, the airport operator has refused the Kingfisher lessors to take back the aircraft so as to recover a part of its R293-crore dues.
It has also asked the suspended airline to vacate two hangars at Chennai and Kolkata airports.
"There are not many options. Vijay Mallya said he would not clear the dues with funds from his other ventures. Since the airline is already in financial mess, we have to get the money from somewhere," the AAI official said.
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