The Union Civil and Aviation Ministry, on Monday, stripped the beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines of international and domestic flying slots.
The move is likely to make available 25,000 additional seats for passengers.
The Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh, has directed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to take action to allot the domestic slots of Kingfisher Airlines to other domestic airlines. Similarly, various international routes will now be offered to the rival airlines, an official statement here said.
The move comes close on heels of a decision taken by the consortium of bankers to start recalling their loans amounting to Rs.7,500 crore. “The government has decided to withdraw all international bilateral traffic rights allocated to Kingfisher Airlines with immediate effect,’’ the statement added.
Under the said rights, Kingfisher Airlines was allowed to fly the sky of eight countries, namely, Bangladesh (14 services a week), Hong Kong (14 services a week), Nepal (7 services a week), Singapore (7 services a week), Sri Lanka (14 services a week plus 21 services a week from unlimited 18 destinations), Thailand (21 services a week), UAE Dubai (21 services a week) and Great Britain (7 services a week each from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore). These traffic rights were allocated to Kingfisher Airlines between 2008 and 2011.
The statement said these international traffic rights had been withdrawn from Kingfisher Airlines on account of non-utilisation by the airlines. “The Civil Aviation Minister has decided to make these international traffic rights available to other carriers for use. This would give additional availability of about 25,000 seats a week for use by other Indian carriers to these eight countries, some of which are much in demand by these carriers,” the statement said.
Further, it said it had been decided to withdraw the domestic slots which were allocated to Kingfisher Airlines at different airports for domestic flights.
AAI had been directed to make these slots available to other domestic carriers as per their demand, it added. In October last year, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had temporarily suspended the scheduled operator permit (SOP) or flying permit of the Vijay Mallya-promoted carrier following a strike by its pilots and engineers over non-payment of salaries for several months that completely grounded its fleet.
The SOP expired on December 31. A week before this, the airline submitted an interim revival plan to the aviation regulator to resume limited operations. But the DGCA had rejected the plan, terming it as inadequate. It sought more information on the funding and payment of dues, and decided not to allow the airlines to take to air till it met a series of conditions, including payment of dues to its employees and various service providers such as airport operators.
The AAI had also recently made it clear that it would not allow Kingfisher to take to the skies till it clears all dues.