Indian airlines seek help from oil firms, airports

LONDON • Airlines in India are asking the government to help them obtain unsecured credit from oil companies and airports, as fuel-price increases push them deeper into losses and imperil their survival.

Competition and aggressive pricing are stopping fares from rising to reflect higher input costs, the Federation of Indian Airlines said in a letter sent to the Aviation Ministry’s top bureaucrat last week and obtained by Bloomberg News. Ujjwal Dey, a spokesman for the group, confirmed the letter and its contents, but couldn’t immediately comment further.

Airlines are “facing challenging times and substantial losses in the domestic environment,” the communication addressed to Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said.

The plea is the latest signal of the crisis facing airlines in India, where the world’s fastest- growth in air travel has created a capacity glut that’s keeping fares below cost, while fuel prices and a weaker rupee squeeze them further.

Jet Airways India Ltd, the market’s second-biggest player, is struggling to stay afloat after delayed payments to staff and lessors, and is in talks with investors to raise funds.

Losses at Indian carriers will balloon to as much as US$1.9 billion (RM7.96 billion) in the year ending March 2019, and they need to raise more than US$3 billion in working capital in the near term, according to Sydneybased consultancy CAPA Centre for Aviation. – Bloomberg