New Delhi: Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines, whose losses widened by a whopping 147 percent in the last quarter, today told aviation regulator DGCA it had curtailed its flight operations due to the grounding of six of its 17 aircraft fleet and pilots’ strike.
Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Agarwal made a presentation on the airline’s performance, severely impacted by financial distress, before DGCA chief Arun Mishra here, official sources said.
Agarwal is understood to have informed the regulator that payment of pending salaries to pilots, who have been frequently striking work over the issue, has begun on Tuesday. The pilots are now being paid their March salaries.
Following fears that the airline’s safety performance could be adversely affected due to financial crunch, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is carrying out a safety audit of the airline and Agarwal’s presentation was part of that process.
The struggling carrier’s net loss widened by a whopping 147 percent to Rs 650.8 crore in the quarter ended June, from Rs 263.5 crore a year ago.
The sources said the airline, which had promised to operate about 120 daily flights this summer season with 17 planes, was operating only 85 flights with 11 aircraft since August 17.
While six aircraft — three Airbus A-320s and three turboprop ATRs, were grounded, the airline was operating six A-320s and five ATRs, Agarwal told the DGCA.
He said the curtailment of flights had been a result of industrial unrest (strikes by pilots) and grounding of these planes.
The Kingfisher CEO also informed the DGCA chief that the airline was in consultation with some potential investors for recapitalisation of the company.
The airline promoter Vijay Mallya has been saying for several months now that the airline was close to getting recapitalized but there has been no movement on this so far.
Maintaining that DGCA was likely to come out with its safety audit report by this weekend, the sources said if the report was negative, the regulator had the right to cancel or suspend the license of any airline.
However, they maintained that closing down an airline was not a solution. Instead all efforts should be made to revive a big aviation company as livelihood of hundreds of people was involved, the sources said.
In July, Kingfisher’s market share of 3.4 percent in the domestic skies.
The sources said the safety audit was primarily aimed at the human factor as an unpaid pilot, engineer, cabin crew or technician may not be able to give their best if he or she has in mind problems of paying bills or school fees.
The private airline’s accounts have been under Corporate Affairs Ministry’s scanner for several months now.
The Ministry had recently ordered an inspection of account books of the debt-ridden carrier after receiving complaints from stakeholders alleging violation of certain provisions of company law.
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