A day after the Aviation Ministry unceremoniously removed Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) E K Bharat Bhushan allegedly for his tough stance against crisis-hit Kingfisher Airlines, the Vijay Mallya-promoted carrier on Wednesday said it had nothing to with his exit.
"Transfer of its officials is the sole prerogative of the government. It is highly incorrect to suggest that the transfer of DGCA Bhushan was in any way connected to Kingfisher Airlines," a statement from the private airline said late this evening.
The near-bankrupt airline also denied getting any notice from the regulator regarding safety of its operations.
"Kingfisher Airlines wishes to clarify that no communication or notice has been received from the DGCA and the airline is operating with the utmost safety under close supervision of the regulator," the statement added.
Bhushan was removed from the post yesterday and immediately replaced by Prashant Sukul, Joint Secretary in the Aviation Ministry. While the Ministry did not offer any reason for his sudden sacking, there has been speculation that his recent warnings to Kingfisher and state-run Air India (AI) to pay dues to their employees had gone against him.
The IAS officer of 1979-batch from Kerala cadre took over as DGCA from Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi in December 2010. Bhushan is also an Additional Secretary in the Ministry under which capacity he serves as financial advisor to Air India.
As the DGCA, Bhushan had brought in stringent measures to prevent airlines from compromising on safety issues on account of their financial trouble.
He had told loss-making Kingfisher and AI to pay up their employees dues at the earliest so that their performance was not affected. He had said safety could be adversely affected by a demotivated staff, particularly a pilot, an engineer or a cabin crew if they were not paid on time.
During his 20-month tenure as head of the regulatory body, the 57-year-old Bhushan handled a series of major cases of flouting of aviation rules, including the fake pilots scam and fudging of records by flying schools.