SpiceJet flights hit, passengers stranded

150 schedules cancelled, 75 resume operations later

SpiceJet flights hit, passengers stranded

SpiceJet faced one of its worst moments on Wednesday as thousands of fliers were left stranded in airports across the country after around 150 flights could not take off following oil companies’ refusal to supply fuel due to non-payment of dues.

The oil companies, however, eased the restriction later, enabling the airline to resume operations from 4 pm after paying  for the purchases.

Around 150 flights out of the 243 scheduled services were cancelled leaving over 20,000 passengers in trouble, sources said. Though the airline refused to provide the exact number of cancellations, a SpiceJet official told Deccan Herald that they were able to operate about 75 flights after 4 pm.

The crisis came a day after the government asked oil companies to provide credit up to 15 days to help the crisis-ridden airline. SpiceJet owes around Rs 14 crore to the oil companies. The government had also asked banks to give working capital up to Rs 600 crore after a commitment by its promoter that it will infuse more money into the ailing airline.

Several airports witnessed angry protests by passengers who demanded immediate remedial action by the airline.

In Delhi, a dozen passengers filed police complaint against the airline. The police did not file a formal case. In some airports, SpiceJet counters had a poster which read: “All SpiceJet flights are cancelled for the day due to operational reasons.”

Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor tweeted an apology. “SpiceJet apologises for disruption and pain caused to passengers due to stoppage of fuelling for our flights by the oil companies. We are working to resolve the issue. Our dues to the oil companies is Rs 14 crore. We spend Rs 3,000 crore a year on fuel and have never defaulted.”

An airline official said flights cancelled earlier during the day would “remain cancelled.”
About six months ago, SpiceJet was put on cash-and-carry, which meant fuel will be supplied only if they pay for it.

“We need some breathing time....if we get a reprieve from the banks and Kalanithi Maran is ready to give guarantee we can restart the engine. Once the collection starts coming in, we will pay the dues,” S L Narayanan, CFO of Sun Group, SpiceJet’s parent company, told PTI.

“We never stopped supply of fuel. They did not come to buy fuel after that and so we did not supply any. They came this afternoon and so we are supplying,” a top executive at a public sector oil firm was quoted by PTI as saying.

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