SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International) is continuing to question the validity of insolvency petitions filed against it, with the airline's lawyers now arguing that Wilmington Trust SP Services (Dublin) Ltd is merely a trustee and not an operational creditor of SpiceJet. The same tactic is in play against another lessor, Willis Lease Finance, in a bid to also have its insolvency petition dismissed.

As reported by India's Economic Times, counsel for SpiceJet told the National Company Law Tribunal in Delhi on August 18 during proceedings in the matter of Wilmington Trust SP Services (Dublin) Ltd. Vs. SpiceJet Limited (Case No. C.P. (IB) - 349/2023) that Wilmington's bid to push the low-cost carrier into insolvency could not be maintained. They say the debt is owed to Aircastle (Ireland) Ltd, and until the airline defaulted, SpiceJet made payments into an account maintained by the same entity. Invoices sent to SpiceJet were also issued by Aircastle (Ireland) Ltd, formerly Klaatu Aircraft Leasing (Ireland) Ltd. Wilmington Trust is ultimately owned by global lessor Aircastle.

Wilmington reportedly used s.9 of India's Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (2016) to initiate its bid to bankrupt the airline. However, SpiceJet's counsel told the tribunal that Wilmington was merely a trustee, which was not the same as an operational creditor. He argued that a trustee was not the beneficial owner of an asset.

In response, Wilmington's counsel, Ajay Kumar, said his client had a certificate of registration issued by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that names Wilmington as the lessor. Counsel also said the Irrevocable Deregistration and Export Request Authorisation (IDERA) that also named Wilmington as the lessor. The NCLT bench took the arguments under consideration, adjourning the matter until September 12.

Separately, SpiceJet's counsel has also questioned an insolvency petition filed by Willis Lease Finance in the matter of Willis Lease Finance Corporation vs SpiceJet Limited (Case No. C.P. (IB) - 249/2023). SpiceJet is seeking to have the case thrown out. Willis had 11 aircraft engines placed at SpiceJet and is owed USD6.87 million. However, after withdrawing a claim earlier this year and submitting a fresh claim that excluded certain unpaid invoices, SpiceJet is now attempting to have the second petition dismissed on several grounds, including that Willis used SPVs in the leases and therefore, like Wilmington, is not an operational creditor of SpiceJet. That matter is also ongoing in the NCLT.

NCLT court records show five insolvency petitions are underway against SpiceJet. In addition to the Wilmington and Willis matters, Aircastle has three separate petitions listed (Case Nos; IA(I.B.C) - 2888/2023 and C.P. (IB) - 266/2023), while Celestial Aviation Services Limited began an insolvency action (Case No; C.P. (IB) - 441/2023) against the airline in June.