Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) has drastically slashed its operations to a truncated fleet of 28 planes which will operate 170 daily flights, down from 400 when it had 64 aircraft in its fleet.
The airlines submitted the revised winter schedule of flights that it would operate till March-end this year on Wednesday after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gave it a 24-hour deadline to come up with a revised schedule for the aircraft that it still has in operation.
The loss-making airline has managed to wangle a Rs 1,500 crore lifeline from the State Bank of India (SBI) despite its loans being declared as non-performing assets. DGCA, sources said, has apprised civil aviation minister Ajit Singh about the KFA's revised schedule and of its current financial health. KFA planes have either been taken away by lessors or are awaiting repairs and spare parts or been cannibalised.
The decision of SBI management and the government to infuse funds into KFA has been opposed by the SBI's Officers Association. President of the association T.N. Goyal told Mail Today that it will raise the matter before the board of directors, who will meet soon. "We oppose the decision of the management to infuse more funds into Kingfisher. The carrier's account is classified as NPA and as a matter of policy, the bank cannot lend money to them. Our association's general secretary G.D. Nadaf. who is also on board. will raise the matter with the directors.
Meanwhile, KFA services continued to be affected for the sixth day with cancellation of at least 20 aircraft on Wednesday. Thirty flights were cancelled on Tuesday and hundreds of others in the past week causing large-scale disruption of flights and inconveniencing passengers across the country.
Kingfisher also partially resumed flights from Kolkata operating four to the Northeast though it cancelled 14 from Mumbai, eight from Bangalore and two from Delhi. The entire Kolkata operations were shut down from Friday night.
Corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily said that he had sympathy for Mallya but blamed bad governance and lack of professional management for the present situation of the airlines. Moily, without naming the airline, said that the problems are due to bad governance practices but as the corporate affairs minister, he wants that company to survive.
Singh has made it clear that closure of any airline would not be good for the health of the aviation industry. "We have made it clear and I am sure Mr Mallya knows that Air India is a government concern. Whatever help we give them (Air India), we cannot do it to any private industry." KFA has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore and posted a Rs 444 crore loss in the third quarter this fiscal.
The carrier had faced the wrath of the Income Tax authorities, which froze its bank accounts for the second time in less than two months but agreed to defreeze it on Tuesday. Central Board of Excise and Customs chairman S.K. Goel said on Wednesday that Kingfisher had an outstanding tax due of Rs 70 crore and the airline has promised to pay in installments.