Faces the prospect of losing a number of prime flying slots

For the flamboyant liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, it must have come as a rush of adrenalin as his Kingfisher Airlines came to be popularly known as the “King of Good Times.” But over the years, bad times have plagued the airline and on Thursday it faced a grim prospect of losing a number of its prime flying slots as it began operating a truncated flight schedule.

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is said to be considering punitive action against the airline for alleged violation of norms and regulations, informed sources here said, adding the airline might lose its flying slots as it put into operation a schedule of 170 daily flights with 28 aircraft.

While still it is uncertain whether a consortium of banks will take a decision on infusing fresh funds into the troubled carrier, the government maintained a wait and watch approach.

“If banks find it good business, they will loan their money [to Kingfisher]. At the same time, the government is not going to ask banks to lend money to any private industry. It is for the banks to decide ... on the basis of whether they will get it back or not,” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said.

In November last, the airline surrendered almost half its slots after cancelling around 200 daily flights on the grounds of financial crisis. The cash-strapped airline has now cancelled between 30-60 daily flights out of 240 since February 17 after tax authorities froze its bank accounts over unpaid service tax.

The DGCA has begun examining the submissions made by Kingfisher officials. DGCA chief E.K. Bharat Bhushan has briefed the Minister and sent a report on his discussions with the airline top brass to the Ministry, the sources said.

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