VILNIUS - Vilnius International Airport (VIA) has turned to the Prosecutor General's Office with a claim that FlyLAL has not paid millions of litas in departing passenger fees since late August.
FlyLAL acknowledged the debt of 4.5 million litas (1.3 million euros), but said it will not pay until their current legal dispute over payment terms with the airport has been resolved.
"If we were given 100 days to pay with, we would have a debt of zero, but we are not paying until the matter is resolved," FlyLAL CEO Vytautas Kaikaris told The Baltic Times.
Currently VIA expects payment within 30 days.
"The court has given the order to force the airport to continue serving us until the matter is finished," he added.
FlyLAL sued the airport after it couldn't come to a compromise over payment terms. The airline had been seeking to extend the deadline to 180 days.
"The whole situation of the aviation industry has changed. We are now negotiating for this payment term to be changed. We are looking to settle out of court at 100 days. Negotiations are on going," Kaikaris said.
The airport, which claims that FlyLAL owes it over 3 million litas in fees, has asked the prosecutors to assess the airline's actions and its financial situation.
The airport's lawyer, Kestutis Virbickas, told the Baltic News Service that FlyLAL had not transferred fees collected from departing passengers to the airport since the end of August.
FlyLAL representatives told The Baltic Times that the figure owed for the departure taxes is 2.2 million litas.
Liudmila Zumeriene, the under-secretary of the Transport and Communications Ministry, said the ministry had asked all licensed air carriers to submit their latest financial statements for the first three quarters of this year.
"It is no secret that conditions are becoming increasingly difficult, but we will know the real situation after we analyze these documents," she said.
AirBaltic also owes VIA money for services rendered, but refuses to pay until FlyLAL does. AirBaltic owes 784,000 litas, which won't be deposited until the current court case against the airport over payment terms is resolved.
Tadas Vizgirda, airBaltic's vice-president and the head of its Lithuanian operations, told BNS the airline was still paying fuel and passenger service fees to the airport.
"We are ready to pay for other services as soon as the airport takes a decision on uniform payment periods to all air carriers," he said.
Airbaltic said that the airport, which handles 80 percent of Lithuania's air passengers, must apply the same payment terms to all airlines.
Kaikaris said he expects every airline flying at the airport to receive the same deal once the issue has been resolved.
"It is against EU law to give special treatment to a specific airline," he said.
The two airlines are locked in a legal battle over airport taxes at Riga International Airport, where airBaltic has been accused of getting "illegal" discounts that push competition out of the market.