With no plan for survival, Kingfisher loses licence to fly

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Saturday suspended Kingfisher Airlines’ flying licence after the airline failed to present the aviation regulatory with a satisfactory plan for its financial and operational survival.

Kingfisher Airlines, which received its licence in March 2003 and started operating flights in 2005, has not registered a single profit and its debts have crossed the Rs 8,000 crore mark. Employees haven’t been paid for eight months. Earlier this year, the airline had to shut its international operations after being derecognised by international agencies. The airline has not operated a single flight since October 1.

A vacant departure counter of Kingfisher Airlines at the domestic airport. The airline’s licence has been revoked. Pic/ Omkar Gaokar

On October 5, the DGCA issued a show cause notice to the Vijay Mallya-controlled airline, saying abrupt cancellation of flights in the last 10 months had inconvenienced the public. The notice pointed out that Kingfisher Airlines had failed to establish safe, efficient and reliable services and asked the airline to justify why action should not be taken against it.

On Wednesday, MiDDay quoted Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh stating that the airline’s fate would be decided this weekend (KF needs to come up with survival plan by Oct 20).

Talking to Sunday MiDDay, Director General of the DGCA, Arun Misra, said, “The airline did not present a sustainable and reliable plan for keeping itself afloat. We have decided to cancel its licence with immediate effect.”

Kingfisher Airlines permit will remain suspended until it submits a revival plan that satisfies the DGCA.

The DCGA said that in its Friday plan, Kingfisher Airlines hadn’t addressed the issues raised at a meeting held on October 2, or even those mentioned in the show cause notice. The airline sought more time but the DGCA did not accede.

On Saturday, the Kingfisher counter at the domestic airport wore a deserted look, with only one customer seen in two hours. Businessman Nagesh Putran says, “I stopped flying Kingfisher Airlines, after they abruptly cancelled a flight from Mangalore to Mumbai.”

Advocate Pankaj Malik is more vehement. “The airline deserves no sympathy. They have to pay their dues under any circumstances, like any other citizen of this country. At the end of the day — just like in any other establishment — they have to either perform or move out.”

Prakash Mirpuri, vice president, corporate communications, Kingfisher Airlines, said in a statement: “This is not a cancellation but a temporary suspension, valid only until we submit a concrete and reliable revival plan to the satisfaction of the DGCA. We had suspended operations and closed forward bookings till November 6, 2012. We are now immediately suspending all forward bookings until we resume operations.” 

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