The Air India plane flying the inaugural trip from Lucknow,

Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) issued an ultimatum to Air India on Thursday, asking the national carrier to pay the lump sum payments, failing which, oil supply to six major domestic airports will be stopped.

Three oil companies - Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) - said in a letter addressed to Air India that "the outstanding has not come down considerably in the absence of the committed monthly lump sum payment," reported PTI.

The oil marketing companies had earlier said in August that the national carrier owed Rs 5,000 crore in unpaid fuel bills with payments being delayed by almost eight months.

Oil supply was stopped for Air India at the Kochi, Mohali, Pune, Patna, Ranchi and Vishakhapatnam airports on August 22. It was later restored on September 7, following Ministry of Civil Aviation's intervention.

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Reuters file

On October 5, the oil companies had written to Air India that the oil supply will be stopped on October 11 if the carrier did not pay. Air India wrote back on Thursday, requesting the firms to not halt the supply.

The companies responded the same day stating that "while we are in receipt of your letter dated 10th October, 2019, requesting OMCs against stoppage of fuel supply, it has been observed that no timelines have been mentioned with respect to the lump sum payment".

"However, taking into consideration your request, we are deferring our decision to suspend supplies to October 18, 2019," they said.

Meanwhile, the Centre is planning to initiate the process of divestment in the national carrier, which has a debt of over Rs 60,000 crore.

In September, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said the process of privatisation of Air India is "truly underway".