Having exited from the airline four years ago, SpiceJet’s original promoter, Ajay Singh, has offered to invest in the cash-strapped carrier along with a few more investors, sources in the civil aviation ministry said.
A day after he met civil aviation secretary V Somasundaran, Singh met civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday, confirming his renewed interest in investing in the airline to get it out of troubled waters.
Senior ministry officials said it was in the best interest of all stakeholders, including passengers, to help the airline survive. After the meeting, Raju said Singh had shared with him some thoughts about the air carrier’s recapitalisation plans, “though these were not concrete plans” as yet.
He, however, confirmed that the airline had sought “rescheduling” of its dues to various vendors and service providers, including airports and oil marketing companies.
“They (SpiceJet) have told the ministry that they are likely to get an investor. The airline does not have a safety issue (but) it is going through financial stress. They are trying to address their financial woes,” Raju said on Thursday evening.
The minister, however, declined to go into specifics of whether a domestic or international investor would infuse funds into the cash-strapped airline. Sources in the civil aviation ministry said some informal consultations were on with the finance ministry, and various proposals were being considered by the government to help the cash-strapped airline.
The aviation ministry is also likely to push for granting infrastructure status to the aviation industry to enable it to access finances at cheaper rates and ease the cash crunch. Sources said a “relief package” was being evolved for the entire industry, and not just SpiceJet.
Other proposals under consideration include allowing access to external commercial borrowings with lower interest rates, tax exemptions for a fixed period, asking banks to cap interest on borrowings by airlines at 8 per cent and rescheduling payment of dues to oil companies.
Sources said these proposals were currently under discussion and any decision would be taken only after consultations with the Prime Minister’s Office and the ministries of finance and corporate affairs.
Meanwhile, the airline announced on Thursday morning that it would operate “all 230 flights” scheduled to fly for the day. Till 6 pm at the Delhi airport, however, the airline operated 21 of its 32 scheduled flights, while 21 of 38 flights arrived from other destinations, airport sources said.
“SpiceJet is pleased to announce resumption of normal operations as of today, with all 230 flights scheduled to operate for the day…” the airline said in a statement. It also said it is now able to take bookings till March 28 of next year, adding that the temporary restriction of 30 days imposed on it in this regard by DGCA has already been lifted.