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All staff salary issues in SpiceJet have been resolved: Ajay Singh

The court cases filed by aircraft lessors to recover their dues don't assist anybody very much and all such disputes eventually end in settlements, SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh has said.

All staff salary issues in SpiceJet have been resolved: Ajay Singh
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The court cases filed by aircraft lessors to recover their dues don't assist anybody very much and all such disputes eventually end in settlements, SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh has said.

SpiceJet employees are now being paid their full salaries on time and all issues related to their pay have been resolved, he told PTI in an interview last week.

The Delhi High Court last month restrained SpiceJet from transferring a part of its assets to a separate company after Goshawk, one of the airline's aircraft lessors, filed a case to recover its pending dues of approximately $25 million.

On September 3, a section of employees of SpiceJet went on a short strike at the Delhi Airport over issues related to reduced salaries and their irregular disbursement.

Singh said it is a difficult time for every airline around the world and not just SpiceJet.

On the Goshawk case, Singh stated, "Goshawk has gone to court against most of the airlines around the world. So, we will try and find a settlement with Goshawk as well as the other lessors. All these disputes eventually end in settlements. I think the court process does not assist anybody very much. I think, traditionally, all these disputes have always been settled through negotiation. That is what we expect will happen," he added.

SpiceJet—which reported a net loss of Rs 934.8 crore and Rs 998.3 crore in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively—entered into a settlement with CDB Aviation and Avolon, two major lessors of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, during the August-September period this year.

India's aviation regulator DGCA lifted the ban on Max on August 26, 2021. SpiceJet's fleet has 13 Max aircraft.

When asked by when he plans to put all 13 of them into service, Singh replied, "We are working with the lessors. We are trying to ensure that all the commercial arrangements are in place. But we hope that certainly, through the month of October, and by middle November, we should have most of the Max aircraft flying."

Max was banned in most of the countries, including in India, in March 2019 after two of them crashed between October 2018 and March 2019, killing a total of 346 passengers.

On issues concerning salary payment, Singh said, "All salary issues have been resolved. Salaries are being paid on time and in full. You know, this issue, the media has been raising occasionally, but every airline around the world has been challenged on salaries, on payments and so on. And all these issues have always been settled by negotiations."

Singh gave the interview to PTI on the sidelines of the 77th annual general meeting of International Air Transport Association, which is a global airlines body.

He said the government's decision to impose fare bands and domestic capacity caps greatly helped the Indian aviation industry to maintain some form of stability.

When the government had resumed the scheduled domestic flights on May 25 last year after a two-month break, it had allowed the carriers to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic services. The cap has been gradually increased to 85 per cent till date.

Moreover, on May 25 last year, the government had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration. Last month, the government relaxed this rule stating that the limits on airfares will remain for just 15 days at any given time and the airlines will be free to charge without any limits from the 16th day onwards.

Singh said the airports should refrain from recovering all their lost revenue from the airlines amid the COVID-induced crisis.

The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has in 2021 accepted demands of Indian airports in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi to raise their charges—such as landing fee or user development fee—which are levied from the airlines or passengers.

The Indian aviation sector was in a very poor shape, especially when the second wave of the virus descended upon us this year, Singh stated.

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