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After day of disarray, Spicejet finally resumes operations

The airline's flights have been grounded since morning after oil companies refused supplies despite a request from the civil aviation ministry to extend 15-day credit

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

A passenger stands outside the SpiceJet Airlines ticket counter at the domestic airport on the outskirts of Agartala

Airline's odyssey may ease shortly, with the ariline's chief operating officer Sanjiv Kapoor saying it would resume flights on or after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Kapoor made the statement shortly after 1 p.m. on micro-blogging social media platform Twitter.

The day started on a bleak note for the embattled airline, which had to ground all its flights after public sector oil declined to supply it with fuel despite a Tuesday request from the ministry to extend it 15-day credit. There were no departures nationwide as the airline is reportedly yet to pay its main supplier Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), which has already put on a cash-and-carry basis for the past few months. The airline sources fuel worth Rs 3.5 crore daily from the PSU. airport saw only two arrivals this morning -- from Goa and Dubai. In Chennai, the airline cancelled its flight to the Andaman Islands, leading to angry protests by passengers. Passengers protest in front of the SpiceJet counter at after their flight to was cancelled Return flights from to and have also been cancelled, adding to the hardships of the stranded passengers. "Originally we were supposed to fly to via but later the airline rescheduled our trip via Both the flights have been cancelled. The airline is not even accomodating us on flights of other We cannot afford last minute tickets.

How will we return home," a stranded passenger Sohan Chowdhury asks in desperation. In another sign of weakening confidence about the airline, leading online travel agency has 'temporarily suspended' bookings for the airline. Kapoor later apologised for the disruption through a statement on Twitter.

On Tuesday morning, too, SpiceJet was unable to fuel its aircraft in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, resulting in cancellations and rescheduling of flights. A spokesperson for the carrier had attributed the disruption to "operational issues". Later in the day, the ministry requested public sector oil to give the airline credit for up to 15 days. "The Public Sector Oil would be requested to give credit for upto 15 days. (The daily off-take of the is about Rs 5 crores. This would amount to about Rs 75 crores. The dues pending is only Rs 14 crores as on 15-12-2014)" the ministry had said in a statement. Security at Bombay Airport in lieu of protests at Port Blair, due to cancelled Spicejet flights The government on Tuesday also approved a series of measures to bail out the cash-strapped airline. After hectic discussions that ran late into the night on Monday, the ministry of said on Tuesday that banks could be requested to give working capital loans based on assurances by the promoter. Civil aviation ministry officials further said the finance ministry would be requested to permit external commercial borrowings (ECBs) for working capital as a special dispensation, as had been done in 2012 when a similar crisis had arisen in the aviation sector. Overturning directions issued by the regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the ministry of civil aviation also lifted the 30-day booking restriction imposed on the ailing carrier. The ministry said airport operators would be requested to give 15 days to the airline to make payments. SpiceJet has dues of around Rs 200 crore towards the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and another Rs 80 crore towards other airport operators. The airline could be put on cash-and-carry mode if it fails to settle dues.

First Published: Wed, December 17 2014. 10:00 IST