Regional airline TruJet could be in danger of losing its scheduled operator licence as it is now left with only one operational aircraft. The airline had to ground at least four aircraft after lessors sent notices for non-payment of dues.
While the airline claims that it is renegotiating the agreements with the lessors, the DGCA rules require regional airlines to have “a fleet of minimum five aeroplanes or five multi-engine helicopters either by outright purchase or through lease.”
Earlier this month, BusinessLine had reported that TruJet had continued to fly the aircraft that belonged to leasing company Elix despite grounding notices. The airline had also received grounding notices from another leasing company, DAE.
Grounding of aircraft
Only one aircraft from lessor Aerigo is currently being operated by the airline. TruJet has seven aircraft of which, “last year, it had to ground one aircraft leased from DAE after an accident, while another aircraft too was grounded because of engine issues,” said a source requesting anonymity.
In response to BusinessLine’s query, Interups chairperson, Laxmi Prasad said, “We have taken the stance that we will buyout but not continue with leasing unless they (lessors) freeze current obligations and agree with us starting a new payment plan.”
Interups had recently invested in TruJet and had raised hopes of keeping the airline afloat.
Prasad further added: “It’s a must that we negotiate this now as otherwise in legal terms it implies that we have assumed their confirmation of outstanding obligations.”
Not likely to negotiatie
According to sources, the lessors are not likely to negotiate with the airline. In such a scenario, if the lessors move an application to the DCGA requesting it to deregister the aircraft, the airline might be in trouble, and may even lose its Air Operator Permit /Certificate.
A regional scheduled airline will have to fulfill the requirements stated in CAR Section 3 – Air Transport Series ‘C’ PART II of the DGCA. According to the guidelines, “a fleet of minimum five aeroplanes or five multi-engine helicopters either by outright purchase or through lease.”
For leased aircraft, a copy of lease deed has to be filed with the DGCA. “To facilitate the start of the operations, operators will be permitted to operate with one aeroplane/ helicopter and will be given one year’s time from the date of securing operator’s permit, to have the fleet size of five aircraft,” the rules state.
However, now since the airline has crossed the threshold of five years of operations, it has to operate at least five aircraft.