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Kingfisher to suspend international flights

Last updated on: March 20, 2012 21:19 IST

Kingfisher to suspend international flights

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Kingfisher Airlines on Tuesday decided to suspend all international flights from March 25 and further curtail domestic operations even as government warned the ailing carrier that its flying licence can be cancelled if it failed to meet safety norms.

"We have decided to suspend our international operations as we are not on IATA platforms. So, there is no sense flying abroad," Mallya, who was summoned by the DGCA, told reporters.Kingfisher will not operate its international flights in the summer schedule starting from March 25, airlines sources said.

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Image: A closed sign at the counter.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters.

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Mallya, who had a nearly 90-minute meeting with the aviation regulator to brief them on the present situation ofthe beleaguered airlines, said, "We are not going with any ambitious target. We will be operating flights with 20 aircraft.

"The airlines, which was operating over 400 daily flights 64 aircraft in its winter schedule, slashed it to 170 flights with 28 aircraft last month. On Sunday, this was reduced to 130 daily flights.Mallya said he had told Director General of Civil Aviation E K Bharat Bhushan that there would be no disruptionsand "schedule integrity will be maintained".

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Image: Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya speaks with the media after his meeting with Director General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan in New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters.

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Ahead of the meeting, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh put the onus on Mallya to maintain its operations and adhere to the schedule even as government constituted a special team to check whether the aircraft used by the airline were safe.

He said Kingfisher Airlines has not paid salaries to its employees, cleared dues to oil companies and to the AirportAuthority of India.

"Also they have failed to stick to their schedule. They have revised their schedule 2-3 times but they have failed toadhere to it. DGCA is checking on the passenger safety aspect whether the planes are safe and pilots were in goodcondition," he told reporters.

"If he gives a plan and says I have that many planes, that much schedule, then why should we cancel?" Singh said.

Image: A Kingfisher Airlines passenger.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters.

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"If passenger safety is compromised we'll not let any airline fly. Safety norms also involves financial viability," the minister said.Mallya was summoned by DGCA on Tuesday to present a "clear picture" of the cash-strapped private carrier, as the aviation regulator mulled cancellation of its flying permit.

"We are working on several recapitalisation initiatives. Once it is complete, we will ramp up again and it will beunder the guidance and direction of the regulator," he said.After the meeting, Bhushan said Mallya has submitted some pointers for the airline's recovery plan and has assuredthat there the flight schedules will be maintained.

"The main problem is whether he (Mallya) will be able to defray his liability," the DGCA said adding there was no move for cancellation of Kingfisher's license.Regarding flight safety, Bhushan said, "there is no cause of panic" as DGCA officials were carrying out special checks of Kingfisher aircraft.

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Image: Kingfisher Airlnes parked at New Delhi Airport.
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters.

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The Civil Aviation Minister said, "We are not giving last chance or first chance to Mr Mallya. He has to decide whether to run the airline or to how to run the airline. DGCA is looking after the situation. To continue to have the licence, they have to have five aircraft but at present the financial situation is bad," he said.

Singh also said a special flight audit team has been formed to check whether the aircraft were safe foroperations."We can't force him (Mallya) to run so many (flights). Closing the airline will cause more problem to passengers," he added.

The Minister also noted that the government has given many incentives to the industry like allowing import ofaviation turbine fuel, 49 per cent FDI. He said the import of ATF will reduce the burden of airlines by 8-10 per cent.

Kingfisher has a total debt of about Rs 7,057 crore and accumulated losses of about Rs 6,000 crore. Around 60 accounts of the airline have been frozen by the tax authorities for its failure to pay taxes after levyingit from the passengers.

Image: An employee in the Kingfisher Airlines office in New Delhi.
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters.
Tags: DGCA , ATF , FDI , Mr Mallya , OMallya

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