Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE Capital) has served SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International) with a notice immediately requiring three of its B737s to be grounded due to payments that have allegedly lapsed for five months, unnamed government sources told the Hindu Business Line newspaper on April 7.

DAE reportedly sent the grounding notice to the airline and India’s civil aviation authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), earlier this month.

Another anonymous source said that the lessor’s notice related to three B737-800s, VT-SYW (msn 36694), VT-SYX (msn 36695), and VT-SYY (msn 36698), aircraft that had previously been leased to defunct carrier Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai International).

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the three jets were leased to Jet Airways until the end of March 2019 and joined the SpiceJet fleet on May 22 (VT-SYW) and May 28 (VT-SYX, VT-SYY) of that year. SpiceJet currently operates forty aircraft of the type as part of its 102-strong fleet.

“A notice has been sent to both the DGCA and SpiceJet regarding the grounding. DAE has also written to SpiceJet seeking an Aerodrome Entry Permit for one of its representatives,” a source said.

One of the sources also claimed that other lessors were likely to send grounding notices to the airline in the days to come.

“SpiceJet kept telling the lessors that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it wasn’t able to generate revenues. SpiceJet has defaulted on multiple payments for the past several months and continues to delay communications with the lessors,” the source alleged.

SpiceJet and DAE Capital had not responded to ch-aviation’s request for comment when going to press.

In October 2020, the Airports Authority of India branded SpiceJet a “cash-and-carry” airline, meaning it would have to start paying cash upfront for all airport services. The move was reportedly over unpaid dues exceeding INR1.6 billion rupees (USD21.5 million), although SpiceJet has since claimed it has paid part of this debt.

According to a letter the carrier sent to the airport operator on April 1, seen by the Hindu Business Line, SpiceJet recounted that it had paid enough to reduce the outstanding principal amount to INR1.15 billion (USD15.4 million). In an earlier letter dated February 3, it asked the authority to consider waiving the interest for delayed payments between March 2020 and March 2021, the newspaper reported.