Delhi: Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Thursday ruled out
cancelling the licence of Kingfisher Airlines even as the carrier
continued to curtail its daily flight operations due to a cash crunch, an
exodus of pilots and operational reasons.
"We don't want Kingfisher to shut down. We do not have any plans to cancel
Kingfisher's licence. An airline can operate until it has at least five
planes in its fleet," Singh told reporters.
The development comes as the cash-strapped airline continued to curtail
its operations for the sixth consecutive day on Thursday.
Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the
regulator has received the airline's new schedule via an e-mail and was
The regulator is probing the large-scale cancellations and whether
financial constraints have in any way compromised passenger safety.
According to sources, the airline has violated Rule 140 of the Aircraft
Rules by not seeking prior approval of the regulator before curtailing its
schedule for the second time since last year.
With 28 planes, the regulator estimates that Kingfisher would only be able
to operate about 175 flights each week, down from its revised 240
operations per day.
The regulator is also said to be screening the airlines' operational
aircraft to find their airworthiness and if financial constraints have in
any way compromised passenger safety.
The airline's latest trouble started on February 18 when its employees in
Kolkata went on a flash strike. The carrier, on the other hand, blames the
seizure of its bank accounts by the Income Tax department as the main
reason for flight plan curtailment.
Kingfisher has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore. The company's net loss widened
to Rs 444.26 crore for the quarter ended on December 31, 2011, from Rs
253.69 crore in the October-December quarter in the last fiscal.