NEW DELHI (AFP) – Troubled Indian airline SpiceJet grounded its fleet Wednesday after suppliers refused to refuel its planes citing unpaid dues, a company source and reports said.
The move came a day after the government asked state-run oil companies and airport authorities to extend emergency credit to the airline, which last week cancelled nearly 1,900 flights due to cashflow problems.
“The fuel companies are not refuelling any of the aircraft due to the airline’s fragile situation at the moment,” a SpiceJet source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Press Trust of India said no flights had taken off on Wednesday and state oil companies were still deciding whether to extend credit to the airline.
Spice Jet approached the government on Monday asking for emergency help to stay afloat.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has already eased booking curbs imposed after the carrier cancelled flights and missed salary payments.
The no-frills airline, India’s second-largest carrier by passenger share, has a fleet of 37.
It laid out a recovery plan two months ago that involved using fewer and newer planes, but jet fuel represents over 40 per cent of an airline’s operating costs.
India has a congested airline market where fare competition is fierce and operating costs are high, and all but one of its big four carriers are operating in the red. Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines stopped flying in 2012 after running up huge debts.