Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines would have to wait some more time for relief as its lenders continued deliberations on Sunday towards resolving the crisis, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government would explore ways to help the private carrier.
The cash-strapped airline cancelled 40 more flights on Sunday taking the total number of cancelled services to over 250 flights in one week putting thousands of passengers to inconvenience.
Bankers of Kingfisher, who met in Mumbai on Saturday, are holding more rounds of talks on its debt restructuring.
Kingfisher is looking for additional working capital to tide over its severe cash crunch.
Kingfisher has approached lender-banks for a reappraisal of working capital requirements following a surge in price of jet fuel in recent months.
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi has ruled out any bailout package for the airlines but said efforts would be made to help the ailing aviation industry.
Asked whether government had decided on allowing Foreign Direct Investment by foreign airlines in India, Mr. Ravi told reporters, “It is not a matter to be decided in a day. The proposal may come and then it will be considered”. Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya is making a strong pitch for allowing foreign airlines to pick up stakes in Indian carriers.
Mr. Ravi, who is leaving for Bahrain on a three-day visit from Monday, said he hasn’t yet met the Prime Minister on problems faced by Kingfisher and the aviation industry.
In a tweet, Mr. Mallya said foreign governments go “out of the way” to support airlines but a leading industrialist and Bajaj Auto chief Rahul Bajaj said the private sector should not be bailed out by the government and “those who die must die”.
Opposition parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have also opposed any government bailout for the private airline.
The Prime Minister, while returning from the Maldives, told reporters, “We will explore ways and means in which the airlines can be helped.”
At the same time, he said private airlines should be managed efficiently, “but if they do get into difficulties, we have to find ways and means to help them get out of the process”.