Airlines have overdue payments owed to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) totalling INR24 billion rupees (USD328 million), due to losses sustained while travel demand remains low, The Hindu newspaper reported on October 10.

Owing about 83% of this sum is Air India Group, which encompasses flag carrier Air India, regional subsidiary Alliance Air (India), and low-cost carrier Air India Express. The three airlines reportedly owe the authority INR18.9 billion (USD258 million), INR970 million (USD13.2 million), and INR125.5 million (USD1.7 million), respectively.

The authority has meanwhile carried out an earlier threat to declare SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l) and GoAir (G8, Mumbai Int'l) “cash-and-carry” airlines, meaning they will need to pay cash upfront for all airport services. As previously reported, in early August, the AAI opted to defer an order in this regard for SpiceJet, allowing it to continue paying on standard terms.

Among the country’s private carriers, IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l) owes the authority INR1.5 billion (USD20.5 million), SpiceJet INR1.4 billion (USD19.1 million), GoAir INR588 million (USD8 million), AirAsia India (I5, Bangalore Int'l) INR216 million (USD2.9 million), and Vistara (UK, Delhi Int'l) INR28 million (USD382,000).

The debts have added to the AAI’s woes from airports’ plummeting food and retail revenues because of the drop in passenger numbers, forcing it to take an INR15 billion (USD205 million) loan from the government-owned State Bank of India to meet working capital requirements, despite having been profitable for several years.

Some relief at the authority is expected when the Adani Group conglomerate makes an upfront payment by November 12 for taking over three of the six airports (Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram) awarded to it for operation, management, and development.