Irish aircraft lessor Alterna Aircraft VB has appealed to India’s aviation regulator to deregister a aircraft on alleged payment defaults by the airline. This came days after another lessor AWAS filed a similar appeal for three of the low fare airline’s planes.
Alterna filed the appeal by invoking the Irrevocable Deregistration and Export Request Authorization (IDERA) and filing a request with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The invocation of IDERA is a unilateral action by an aircraft lessor to deregister and repossess its aircraft from the lessee (in this case SpiceJet) in the case of defaults on payment of lease rentals.
As per rules, the DGCA must now deregister the plane within five working days.
“This aircraft is part of early termination agreement executed with the lessor way back in November 2021,” said a spokesperson at the airline.
“The lessor has not provided documentation in the manner desired to SpiceJet to facilitate de-registration of the aircraft and has instead chosen to de-register on its own. This aircraft has already been removed from our fleet for over eight months and does not in any manner affect our operations or schedule,”
“Leases were terminated for cause. Alterna reserves all rights under the leases. Idera is being filed so Alterna can get its aircraft back,” said a senior executive at Alterna in an email.
On July 29 (Friday), aircraft lessor AWAS, a subsidiary of aircraft leasing giant Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), invoked IDERAs.
The airline then said this was part of a plan to send back old planes as it gets new ones.
“Between now and the next calendar year, SpiceJet will induct around 20 new Max planes into its fleet. As part of this modernisation plan, we are returning older aircraft in a phased manner including these three aircraft. These returns have been planned and will not have any impact on our operations. SpiceJet has already returned 12 old Boeing aircraft to lessors in the last calendar year. We have 13 Max aircraft in our fleet and the new inductions would begin from October 2022,” said the airline spokesperson.
Industry experts said more lessors may ask the DGCA to deregistration of SpiceJet’s planes so that they can take them back.
They added many lessors have been reluctant to file IDERAs despite payment issues with SpiceJet because of the cumbersome process of repossessing and exporting an aircraft back from India in the event of a default. Once an IDERA is successfully invoked, the lessor must pay all outstanding dues on those aircraft to various authorities, including the airport operator and the GST department. The entire process takes months and is fraught with hurdles for a foreign registered leasing company, they added.
All the four aircraft which lessors have sought to deregister and repossess were earlier leased by
. The lease agreements were transferred to SpiceJet after Jet stopped operations in April 2019 due to cash and debt problems.
The latest SpiceJet aircraft that got the notice Monday, leased from Alterna, is registered as VT-SXD. The plane is 15 years old. In 2020, the plane was decorated with a giant sticker of the movie Darbar, starring
superstar Rajinikanth as part of a marketing campaign, as per data from aircraft tracker Planespotters. It is now parked in Bhopal.
Earlier this month, the DGCA mandated that SpiceJet can only operate 50% of its flights approved for the summer schedule after probing several mid-air flight incidents since May. SpiceJet has said this action too won’t impact its flights as it already had curtailed its flights by half in the ongoing lean travel season.