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Corporate Feb 26, 2013

Kingfisher RIP: Airport slots to go to rivals, co loses all flying rights

By Sindhu Bhattacharya

New Delhi: Had the Government been sensitive to the needs of other Indian airlines, it would have taken away international slots of Kingfisher Airlines almost an year back when Kingfisher stopped international operations.

This would have freed up as many as 25,000 seats per week for other domestic airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet on lucrative routes such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and even London Heathrow. But the Government dragged its feet since March last year and has cancelled all slots and flying rights-international as well as domestic-for Kingfisher only today.

AFP

This airline's scheduled operator permit was cancelled in December. AFP

This airline's scheduled operator permit was cancelled in December; the airline has not operated a single flight since October 1. So this could be the end of Kingfisher's flight.

A senior official in the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that the Airports Authority of India has been asked to cancel all slots of Kingfisher on domestic airports too and these would be awarded to other airlines for the upcoming summer schedule.

Till 2012 March, Kingfisher was allowed to fly to eight countries Bangladesh and Hong Kong (14 services each per week), Nepal, SIngapore and UK (7 per week), Thailand and UAE (21 per week) and Sri Lanka (14 per week + 21 per week from unlimited 18 destinations).

With no slots, no international flying rights, most of its aircraft already repossessed by aircraft lessors, dues to airports and oil companies, Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya has really no hope now of starting this airline afresh. Not any time soon, anyhow.

Kingfisher has almost Rs 8000 crore debt on its books, employee salary arrears run into months and there are a number of legal cases pending against the company and Mallya for tax evasion, non-payment of salary to employees and due to stakeholders. Its best that Mallya now declares bankruptcy and begins to honour creditors.

by Sindhu Bhattacharya

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