An Indian court has ordered SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International) to return two aircraft and three engines to lessor TWC Aviation Capital by the end of May. US-based TWC had previously secured orders against the LCC in the UK courts and turned to the Indian courts to enforce those orders.

"This court has no option but to direct that the aircraft, along with the engines, along with all relevant records relating to technical condition and usage of [the] aircraft shall be handed over to the plaintiff by May 28, 2024," the May 22 ruling from the Delhi High Court reads.

The matter concerned the 2019 lease of two B737-800s at a base monthly rate of USD180,000 per aircraft. A previous ch-aviation report identified those aircraft as VT-SXB (msn 34399) and VT-SXC (msn 34400). In August 2023, TWC Director Ted Nozaki told Reuters the airline was behind in its payments but had promised to catch up once it obtained a loan. SpiceJet's debt to TWC now stands at USD14 million. Given the airline's history of financial delinquency, the lessor had more recently rejected an offer by SpiceJet to pay USD435,000 per month to catch up.

In March 2024, TWC obtained a ruling in the UK High Court ordering SpiceJet to return the aircraft and engines. SpiceJet participated in those proceedings. Attempting to enforce the ruling in India, where the assets remain, the Delhi High Court in April ordered SpiceJet to hand over the aircraft to TWC but allowed SpiceJet to retain the engines. The updated ruling orders the return of both the aircraft and the engines. The judges criticised the carrier for removing the engines from their assigned aircraft and fixing them to other airframes, contrary to the lease terms.

“The separation of engines from the aircraft in this manner may not even be permissible in the opinion of this court. The aircraft frames and aircraft engines now being used separately would cause considerable reduction in the value of these aircraft for the plaintiff," the ruling said. "The dues are not forthcoming from the defendant.”

"Prima facie, the orders passed by the UK court are enforceable in these proceedings in terms of s.13 read with s.44A of the [Code of Civil Procedure]. The defendant has already had an opportunity to defend itself in the UK courts."

SpiceJet's counsel told the court that handing the aircraft and engines back by the end of the month could be a challenge. "To initiate that process would itself take three to four days," counsel said. "There are inspections which we will have to do. The aircraft are not in Delhi; they are everywhere around. A lot of coordination would have to be done. A lot of preparation would have to be done.”