Mallya says efforts on to put Kingfisher flights back on track

   Mar 13, 5:11 pm

New Delhi, Mar 13 (ANI): Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya on Tuesday said that efforts are underway to ensure smooth operations of its flights which have seen a high level of cancellations in the past few days.

Mallya told reporters in New Delhi that all possible steps were being taken to ensure that passengers did not face any inconvenience in the wake of flights cancellations.

"All the flights that are being cancelled are planned cancellations. We will try to determine about midnight which are the pilots which are going to operate and which are the pilots who are going to stay away from work. Accordingly we will make the schedule and we will inform all our passengers well in advance so as to minimize inconvenience.

"Yes, there is a difficulty, but we are doing the best we can under the circumstances, and the focus is on making sure that the travelling public's interests are held high and are paramount in our minds," said Mallya.

An uncertain future and delayed salaries have driven away about 300 pilots and a few hundred other staff to other airlines in recent months.

Kingfisher's bank accounts were frozen last month over outstanding dues.

According to local media, Kingfisher was also issued a "show-cause" notice last week, asking it to explain why it had not paid about three billion rupees in taxes.

According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an industry consultancy, Kingfisher has a debt of about 1.3 billion dollars, needs at least 400 million dollars soon to keep flying.

Mallya added they merely want their bank accounts to be defrozen so that they could deal effectively with the financial crunch.

"I have not asked the government for any bailout. I want to repeat it again. All I have asked the banking system is for enhanced working capital, which is a reason out of the very high fuel prices. The tax authorities have frozen all our accounts. We have requested them for an accelerated payment plan, but we have requested them to defreeze our accounts because that is a serious handicap we are facing. And of course, the general government support for a critical aviation sector," said Mallya.

The airline was suspended from three settlement systems of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week, hurting its ability to deal with global airlines and travel agents.

Of the 64 planes in its fleet, Kingfisher is at present using just 28, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of passengers across the country.

The airline has become one of the main casualties of high fuel costs and a fierce price war between a handful of budget carriers, which, between them, have ordered hundreds of aircraft for delivery over the next decade in an ambitious bet on the future.

Five out of six major Indian carriers are losing money and analysts estimate that the industry overall is on course to lose three billion dollar for the year ending next month. (ANI)

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