Airlines owe ₹2,400 crore to AAI

Dip in travel demand impacts airport operator’s revenue; AI biggest defaulter

Several airlines have delayed payments, amounting to ₹2,400 crore, to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for using airports because of losses sustained following the drop in travel demand during COVID-19. The biggest defaulter among all airlines is the Air India (AI) Group which owes more than 80% of these dues.

The AAI has also declared SpiceJet and GoAir as ‘cash-and-carry airlines,’ implying they will need to pay daily rentals to be able to use the airports. As per official data, AI owed ₹1,887 crore, Alliance Air ₹97 crore and Air India Express ₹12.55 crore.

Among the private carriers, IndiGo owed ₹150 crore, SpiceJet ₹140 crore, GoAir ₹58.75 crore, AirAsia India ₹21.61 crore and Vistara ₹2.79 crore. But AAI said these carriers had ensured the dues do not exceed the bank guarantees given by them. COVID-19 had also impacted AAI’s earnings from food and beverages and retaining concessionaires at its airports as they have a revenue-sharing model that has taken a hit because of the drop in passenger footfalls at airports, Arvind Singh, Chairman, AAI said recently.

“The first two months of lockdown led to a revenue shortfall of 80% compared with the previous quarter. It has improved since then but hasn’t crossed the 50% mark,” Mr. Singh explained.

These events have forced AAI to avail 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 FY21, according to a recent statement in Parliament. AAI has been a profitable entity for several years, paying dividends to the government. In FY20, the AAI earned a profit of more than ₹3,600 crore from a revenue of about ₹14,367 crore.

The AAI expects some relief from an upfront payment that Adani Enterprises is expected to make for taking over three of the six airports awarded to it for operations, management and development, by November 12.

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