Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Kingfisher says working on plan to restart by Feb end
CEO Sanjay Aggarwal to meet DGCA today; airline says has made seven ATR planes ready for inspection
Mumbai: Kingfisher Airlines Ltd is working out a plan to restart operations by the end of February, and the airline has made seven small ATR planes ready for inspection with small set of pilots retrained to support the plan, according to two airline executives. They said the resumption plan by February end is subject to approval by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and various airport operators, including state-run Airports Authority of India.
Kingfisher Airlines’ operating licence was suspended in October by DGCA, following a strike by the airline’s employees. The licence has since expired.
Sanjay Aggarwal, chief executive officer of Kingfisher Airlines, is scheduled to meet director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra on Wednesday morning.
“The restart plan is ready and we are aiming to be back in the sky by February end. We are ready with seven planes. This may go up to 21 aircraft by May. We may require to meet DGCA again to furnish more details. The funding will be done by promoters,” said one of the two Kingfisher Airlines executive quoted earlier, requesting anonymity.
But Mumbai-based pilots shrugged off the plans of a restart and retraining of pilots.
“The airline is grounded. DGCA has to give approval. Some of the pilots are trained, but that is not for the limited restart plan. An airline needs to restart booking for flying in February. There are no such plans,” said a senior pilot, requesting anonymity.
A section of Kingfisher Airlines employees has planned a hunger strike from 21 January demanding salaries that have been unpaid since June.
Another group is planning legal action seeking closure of the airline, while a third is demanding a meeting with chairman and promoter Vijay Mallya ahead of his meeting with lenders on 18 January.
Mallya in a presentation made to lenders had earlier said that Kingfisher Airlines would resume operations with seven aircraft and increase this to 21 in four months. At its peak, Kingfisher Airlines was flying 66 planes to 68 locations, including eight international destinations, with 374 flights a day, and accounted for 20% of the market. And, in a 10 January letter to employees, Mallya reassured employees that the airline would begin flying by summer with a Rs.650 crore infusion from parent UB Group.
“The limited restart plan, which we are targeting for the beginning of the 2013 summer schedule, requires funding of approximately Rs.650 crore, which is committed to be provided by the UB Group and associates,” Mallya had said in a letter to Kingfisher employees.
Analysts have previously said the grounded airline needs between Rs.3,000 crore and Rs.5,000 crore to fly again—in any meaningful way.
The second Kingfisher Airlines executive quoted above said the critical part for the restart plan “is a no-objection certificate from airport operators”.
A senior Airports Authority of India executive said Kingfisher Airlines need to clear its dues before it flies again. The airline owes around Rs.220 crore to the airports authority.
Courtesy: Live Mint