Private airlines Spicejet, Jet Airways (and subsidiary JetLite), and Vijay Mallya's grounded Kingfisher Airlines together owe state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) almost Rs 500 crore in unpaid airport usage fees and penal interest on the base amount.
According to information submitted in the Parliament, Kingfisher tops the list with Rs 172.69 crore of dues to AAI as of June 30, 2014, followed by Spicejet's Rs 110.86 crore and the Jet Group's Rs 93.07 crore worth of unpaid bills. The total amount of penal interest raised on these private airlines during the last three years and the current year, works out to Rs 115 crore approximately.
“Interest on delayed charges is levied by AAI @ 12% per annum on traffic charges as per its approved credit policy. Penal interest is being charged on account of delay in the settlement of the bills. Security deposit is being taken from the private airlines and in cases where delay persists, besides en-cashing the security deposit, the defaulting airlines are put up on cash and carry basis,” a statement made by the civil aviation ministry in the Parliament said.
It added that in respect of Kingfisher, which has closed its operations, a court case has been filed in the High Court of Mumbai.
Incidentally, in May this year GVK-promoted Mumbai International Airport Ltd had said that state-run Air India may be put on cash and carry if it does not clear a part of its Rs 450 crore worth of dues. The GMR-run Delhi International Airport Ltd also indicated that the flag carrier has unpaid dues worth over Rs 500 crore.
Of the 305 operational airports/airstrips in the country, AAI owns and manages 125 airports across the country, including major international airports in Kolkata, Chennai and Kerala. It also has 26% stake in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore airports which are operated under a PPP model. The government has also identified additional 50 airports in tier II & III cities to improve regional air connectivity as part of a broader plan to build 200 new low-cost airports across the country.