Troubled Kingfisher Airlines on Sunday cancelled several of its flights after reports of the Income-Tax Department freezing some of its accounts. The large-scale cancellations and delays, which have been happening for the past three days and are likely to continue for a few more days, have forced the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to “look into the matter.”
The major centres from where the flights were cancelled or delayed include Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai, besides some State capitals. Informed sources say that out of its already curtailed winter schedule of 240 daily flights, the airline is operating only about 180 flights.
“Admittedly there have been flight disruptions since Friday which will continue for four days due to unexpected events, including bird strikes, which rendered aircraft out of service. We, therefore could only operate 208 daily flights,” Kingfisher Airlines Vice-President (Corporate Communications) Prakash Mirpuri said in a statement.
“We would like to categorically state that we have not shut any stations nor do we have any intention of doing so…the speculative queries that we are reducing our operating schedule from 240 flights a day are ill-founded as we will operate the full schedule on our booking system within the next four days,” he said.
On the tax issues, Mr. Mirpuri said: “We confirm that our bank accounts were attached by the tax authorities. However, this has happened in the past not just to us but also to Air India. We have resolved issues before and will do so again.”
Referring to the airline's financial problems, he said: “We have had a good meeting with our consortium of banks which has accepted, in principle, the viability study prepared by SBI Capital Markets and independent consultants. Our request for additional working capital has been acknowledged by the consortium and it is subject to individual bank approvals.”
Kingfisher Airlines posted a Rs. 444-crore loss for the third quarter in the current fiscal, while its loss in 2010-11 stood at Rs.1,027 crore. It also has a debt of Rs. 7,057.08 crore.
Violation of rules
Meanwhile, the DGCA has started gathering information on the cancellations and delays of Kingfisher Airlines.
“We have received reports of large-scale cancellations. They are bound to inform us when they cut their schedule. But they have not done so. If the reports were true, such large-scale flight disruptions would constitute violation of rules. We are gathering information from all the centres. Once we get this, we will decide what to do,” DGCA head E.K. Bharat Bhushan told agencies.