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Airlines owe ₹2,400 cr. to Airports Authority of India

Aircrafts are parked at the Rajiv Gandhi International airport. File   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Various airlines have delayed their payments to the tune of ₹ 2,400 crore to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) because of the losses due to the fall in travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest defaulter among all is the Air India group, which owes more than 80% of the dues for using various airports.

The AAI has also declared SpiceJet and GoAir as “cash and carry airlines”, implying that they will need to pay their rentals daily to be able to use various airports.

According to official data, Air India owes ₹1,887 crore, Alliance Air ₹ 97 crore and Air India Express ₹12.55 crore.

Among the private carriers, IndiGo owes ₹ 150 crore, SpiceJet ₹ 140 crore, GoAir ₹ 58.75 crore, AirAsia India ₹ 21.61 crore and Vistara ₹ 2.79 crore. But the AAI says they have ensured that their dues do not exceed their bank guarantees.

Earnings from food and beverages hit

Apart from payments from airlines, COVID-19 has also impacted the AAI’s earnings from food and beverages and retain concessionaires at its airports as these have a revenue sharing model that has taken a hit because of the fall in passenger footfall, AAI chairman Arvind Singh said at a recent press conference. “The first two months of lockdown led to a revenue shortfall of 80% compared to the previous quarter. It has improved since then but hasn’t crossed the 50% mark”, he had explained.

These events have forced the AAI to take a loan of ₹1,500 crore from the State Bank of India for its working capital requirements and it is likely to go into the red for the financial year 2021, according to recent statement in Parliament.

The AAI has been a profitable entity for several years that pays a dividend to the government. In the financial year 2020, it earned a profit of over ₹3,600 crore over a revenue of around ₹14,367 crore.

The AAI expects some relief through an upfront payment by Adani Enterprises Limited as it is expected to take over three of the six airports awarded to it for operation, management and development by November 12.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 6:04:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/airlines-owe-2400-cr-to-airport-authority-of-india/article32815515.ece

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