In a bid to contain further losses, troubled private carrier Kingfisher Airlines on Wednesday announced that it would be curtailing its international operations
The airline, which uses the wide-body Airbus A-330 aircraft for flights to destinations like London and Hong Kong and the narrow-body Airbus A-320 for flights to cities in South Asian region, may prune its flights to the U.K. and the Far East. It, however, did not clarify which international sectors will be affected and from when. It flies to eight overseas destinations, including London, Dubai and Hong Kong.
The private carrier also announced that it had returned an Airbus A-330-200 aircraft to a lessor in the United Kingdom.
In a bid to sort out certain issues with the pilots, Kingfisher chairman and MP Vijay Mallya is likely to meet them in Delhi on Thursday, the airline said in a statement.
“Despite the shortage of crew, Kingfisher Airlines operated 101 flights on Tuesday and will operate 101 flights on Wednesday. We request one and all to appreciate the serious handicaps we face not only because of our frozen accounts but because of the operating environment. We are working hard to resolve the issues that confront us given the current environment,” the statement said.
It said the airline had obviously suffered as guests were not able to book seamlessly through IATA travel agents as before. “This serious handicap has been partially mitigated by encouraging our travel partners to establish booking arrangements on their individual platforms. Nevertheless, this greatly influences our ability to operate certain flights and it is, therefore, incorrect to assume that pilots are solely responsible,” it said.
The airline was recently suspended from the Geneva based International Air Transport Authority (IATA) Billing Settlement Plan, making it difficult for travel agents globally to sell its tickets. The suspension came as the airline was not able to meet its financial requirements.
The airline, which saw its net losses go up to Rs. 444 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2011, has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore.
The aviation regulator — the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — said the failure of the airline to stick to its recovery plan and also its regular flight cancellations were a matter of “great concern” to both the public and the government.
The debt-laden airline's woes were further compounded with the former tennis star, Vijay Amritraj, resigning as a director from the Board of the airline, citing increase in his travel schedule and commitments.
Reports on the airline operations were being submitted on a daily basis to the Civil Aviation Ministry as flight cancellations have become regular, Director-General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan said.
“It is a matter of grave concern to all including the regulator. I must say that it is a matter of concern. Because they had given us a recovery plan for the airlines last month, which they have not maintained,” he told journalists in Hyderabad on the sidelines of Aviation India-2012 meet.