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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Govt tells KFA to clear all dues to get flying permit

PTI  New Delhi, January 22, 2013
First Published: 20:56 IST(22/1/2013) | Last Updated: 21:05 IST(22/1/2013)

The government on Tuesday made it clear that grounded Kingfisher Airlines would not be allowed to fly till it cleared all its dues, including pending salaries of its staffers.

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"Kingfisher cannot be allowed to fly without settling its dues. Just paying the employees is not sufficient...DGCA has said that all stakeholders need to be satisfied," civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said.

Kingfisher needs to obtain statements from creditors, including banks, airport operators and employees that they do not object to resumption of flights, he told reporters shortly after the airline's CEO Sanjay Aggarwal met civil aviation secretary KN Srivastava here to seek permission for resuming operations.

The Vijay Mallya-owned company "has no concrete funding plan. The bankers have to give go-ahead to restart the operations. The company needs at least Rs. 1,000 crore to resume operations," Singh said, adding that settlement of Airports Authority of India's dues was "non-negotiable".

He also said that the beleaguered carrier would have to prove its ability to raise funds. "They need to prove they've the ability to scale-up funds to sustain operations."

However, Srivastava during his meeting with Aggarwal indicated that a decision on Kingfisher's plea to resume operations could be taken only after the grounded carrier paid its staff their salary dues.

Official sources said Srivastava told Aggarwal that the issue of the airline's dues to other vendors, including the AAI, could be taken up later but the staffers have to be paid before it could get clearance to relaunch its operations.

Salaries and allowances of Kingfisher employees, including pilots and engineers, have been pending for over eight months now.

Kingfisher CEO's meeting with the civil aviation secretary came six days after the former met Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Mishra in an attempt to convince the regulator on the airline's revival plans.

However, Aggarwal had not been able to furnish any details on the funding of the airline's revival plan by the parent company, UB Group, which the aviation regulator wanted.

Agarwal had told DGCA that the airline would be ready to resume operations from the Summer Schedule that begins in April.

Kingfisher's flying licence (Scheduled Operator's Permit) was suspended DGCA in October following flight disruptions caused by strikes triggered by unpaid salaries. Employees later agreed to resume work after the management pledged to pay salaries, most of which have remained unpaid till now.

SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri on Tuesday said in Bhubaneshwar that Kingfisher needs to invest at least Rs. 2,000 crore to restart its operations.

SBI is the lead banker in the 17-lender consortium that extended Rs. 7,000 crore loans to the airline. It alone has an exposure of Rs. 1,500 crore to the carrier which has been not serviced since January last year.


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