India's SpiceJet quarterly loss widens as fuel costs soar

FILE PHOTO: A SpiceJet Boeing 737 passenger aircraft prepares to land at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's SpiceJet Ltd on Monday reported a bigger quarterly loss as the embattled low-cost carrier wrestled with a surge in fuel costs and a depreciating rupee.

Losses widened to 8.38 billion Indian rupees ($103.25 million) for the three months ended Sept. 30, from 5.62 billion rupees a year earlier, the airline said in an exchange filing.

Its aviation turbine fuel costs almost doubled to 12.26 billion rupees.

SpiceJet has had trouble cashing in on a rebound in air travel from pandemic lows, as India's aviation regulator in July halved the airline's approved fleet due to a string of mid-air safety lapses.

Last month, Reuters partner ANI reported that the agency had lifted its restrictions on SpiceJet's operations, allowing it to operate at full capacity from Oct. 30.

The company is also grappling with stiff competition, losing market share to InterGlobe Aviation-owned IndiGo, new entrant Akasa Air and the Tata Group-backed Vistara.

SpiceJet's share of domestic passenger market dropped to 7.7% in the September quarter from 9.7% in the previous three months, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. At the same time, IndiGo expanded share to 58% from 56.3%.

Earlier this month, IndiGo also saw its quarterly losses widen on a threefold jump in fuel costs and foreign exchange losses.

SpiceJet's total revenue from operations rose 45.4% to 19.53 billion rupees.

Its yield, a key profitability metric, rose 11%, which led to a 109% surge in passenger revenue. Load factor, or the passenger-carrying capacity being utilised, was at 85% in the quarter, an increase of 8% year-on-year.

($1 = 81.1620 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Devika Syamnath)