A lessor has asked India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to deregister three Boeing jets operated by SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l), but the airline has said it is returning older aircraft like these to their owners anyway.

According to three separate notifications the DGCA published on its website on Friday July 29, it received the deregistration requests from AWAS, a subsidiary of DAE Capital, that day and specified the targets as B737-800s VT-SYW (msn 36694), VT-SYX (msn 36695), and VT-SYY (msn 36698). It said that their usual bases were Amritsar (VT-SYW) and Varanasi.

It did not say why it had posted the requests, although sources told local media that it was due to unpaid leases.

SpiceJet said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it was continuing to return older aircraft in a phased manner, including the three in question, as a part of its fleet modernisation and that “these returns have been planned and will not have any impact on our operations.”

However, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the three are still active. All of the 12-year-old aircraft were previously operated by Jet Airways between 2010 and 2019. ch-aviation analysis of Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows that all three have been active on a variety of domestic routes, but VT-SYY also regularly plies the budget carrier’s routes to Dubai Int'l from cities such as Delhi Int'l, Ahmedabad, and Pune.

SpiceJet has said that it plans to replace all of its older Boeing aircraft with B737-8s, inducting 50 of the the newer jets during the 2022 and 2023 calendar years, 15 to 20 of them replacing older aircraft in the fleet.

Last week, the DGCA ordered SpiceJet to cut its scheduled flights by 50% for eight weeks due to concerns over safety, but the airline insisted there would “be absolutely no impact on our flight operations.”

In a filing lodged at the BSE stock exchange on August 1, SpiceJet stressed as a follow-up to the latter comment: “Please note that SpiceJet flight operations remain absolutely normal. All our flights have departed on time, as per schedule today and there have been no cancellations. We are operating with excellent loads and the daily ticket bookings remain strong. Our load factor on July 30 and July 31 was 81% and 82.4% respectively.”