Amidst continuing uncertainty, budget airline SpiceJet cut prices on some sectors by as much as 50 percent to that of its rivals, even as ticket rates surged owing to the beleagured airline cutting routes in the face of a reduced fleet.
The Marans-owned budget airline also received a reprieve from airport regulator Airports Authority of India (AAI) that extended a five-day window to settle its dues of almost 200 crore, reported Economic Times.
The regulator also directed the airline to ensure refunds to passengers by 15 December for flights cancelled by the airline. SpiceJet had refunded 55,000 passengers as per data available with the regulator.
However, SpiceJet 's discount offers have made little change on some of the busiest routes.
However the flight cuts triggered by the airline's financial tightening has been an influencing factors behind rates going up by as much as 15 percent compared to November-end, said Sharat Dhall, president of Yatra.com, a travel portal.
Last week, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) limited the no-frills airline to take advance booking only up to 30 days. Also, 186 slots used by the airline were withdrawn, as the carrier was forced to return leased Boeing jets; the order came into force starting Monday evening.
Some of the routes where SpiceJet is offering discounts include Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Kolkotta, Delhi-Chennai sectors. The cash-strapped airline is under serious pressure to keep its cash flow going, with no sight of an investor in the horizon.
However customers continue to harbour doubts on the airline's schedule integrity, which has cut more than 1,800 flights for the month; they prefer other airlines.
The airline's Boeing 737 fleet has dwindled to 22 on Wednesday from the 42 it was operating earlier. It also operates 15 Bombardier Q400s.
SpiceJet made a payment of 5 crore, following which AAI decided to extend time till Monday for the reminder of the dues to be paid. Earlier AAI had asked SpiceJet to clear dues or to face withdrawal of credit facilities, and being put on a cash-and-carry mode.
The current month also saw SpiceJet delay salaries; the DGCA has asked the airline to ensure payment of salaries by the 7th of every month.
The DGCA has asked the airline to submit a financial plan by December 15, including details on repayment of its dues amounting to 1,630 crore. SpiceJet claims its dues to be lower than the reported figure without revealing the sum.
Executives from the Sun Group, including its finance chief SL Narayanan met DGCA officials on Tuesday, for the first time since the crisis broke out.
SpiceJet scrip was trading at 15.85, down 2.16% at 12:17 PM on Thursday.