SpiceJet running short of planes, may have to cancel flights

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd, which narrowly missed running out of cash in December last, is now finding it difficult to operate all scheduled flights because of a shortage of aircraft.

SpiceJet will have to cancel more than a fifth of its planned daily flights if it cannot reach an agreement with its lessors to bring in more aircraft by the end of this month, a company spokesman said.

The airline was scheduled to make 280 daily flights from next week. But with a current fleet of 17 Boeing 737s and 15 Bombardier Q400s, SpiceJet can make only 218 flights a day, the spokesman said.

SpiceJet's plight comes after a court order on aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to deregister 11 of SpiceJet's Boeing planes following disputes with three lessors.

The airline was operating them as of Friday but may not fly them from tomorrow. The company spokesman, however, said SpiceJet was in talks to resolve disputes with two of its lessors and get back enough planes to allow it to meet its summer schedule.

On Monday it said one of its lessors had agreed to withdraw the deregistion process.

Ajay Singh, a co-founder of the airline, rescued SpiceJet in December with a $240 million bailout hoping to put the airline back on the road to recovery.

But, troubles for India's second-largest budget carrier by market share seems not to end.

SpiceJet was forced to ground its fleet and cancel hundreds of its flights in December before the rescue deal emerged, angering passengers stranded during a busy holiday period.