SpiceJet seeks urgent help from Centre, gets no assurances

New Delhi: Cash-strapped no-frill carrier SpiceJet, which has a liability burden of over Rs 2,000 crore, today sought urgent financial help from the government to run its daily operations but received no assurances from it.

Top officials, including SpiceJet's Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor and S L Narayanan, Chief Financial Officer of its parent company Sun Group, met Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma and made the plea for "urgent relief".

"No assurance has been given to them," Sharma told reporters after the meeting but said any such decision could be taken at the "highest level" in the government.

He said the request of the Kalanithi Maran owned airline SpiceJet would be put up before the Prime Minister's Office and the ministries of Finance and Petroleum.

The meeting came hours after the airline officials met DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar and shared an operational plan, but official sources said there was "nothing new" in it.

DGCA had given the airline time till today to release pending salaries of employees and submit a schedule on how it plans to pay vendor dues of about Rs 1,600 crore.

Kapoor and Narayanan refused to talk to reporters after his meetings with the minister and DGCA.

Till date, SpiceJet has reduced flights across its network from 332 daily to 239 from September 1 till date, according to
latest official figures. It has cancelled 1,861 flights till this month end.

The airline, which had 48 aircraft -- 33 Boeing 737s and 15 Q-400 regional jets -- was operating only 35 of them -- 22 B -737s and 13 Q-400s, considerably shrinking its fleet as it lost considerable amounts on a regular basis. It has a 17 per cent domestic market share.

The airline has been losing money and Maran, SpiceJet's promoter who owns majority stake in the airline, has already brought in about Rs 250 crore in the airline this year but to no avail.

The airline's total liability stands at over Rs 2,000 crore and it needs at least Rs 1,400 crore immediately to keep
it off the ground.

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