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Kingfisher defends viability; shares slump on concerns

india Updated: Nov 11, 2011 11:03 IST

Kingfisher Airlines is still a viable business and there is no dispute over its survival, its chief executive said on Friday, in an effort to dismiss widespread speculation that the cash-strapped airline was staring at bankruptcy.

Unable to raise funds from the equity or debt markets and fast running out of cash to pay for fuel supplies, Kingfisher, the country's second largest carrier by market share, has cancelled several flights daily since Sunday in an effort to cut capacity and minimise costs.

"As a matter of fact, UB group has continued to support us all along over the course of the year, so there is no question about the future or the viability of the airline," CEO Sanjay Aggarwal told newschannel NDTV Profit.

Aggarwal said a hundred pilots have quit over the past months.

"In any airline there is attrition going on. Over the last several months 100 pilots have quit, its not phenomenon that happened in last two weeks or last 30 days," Aggarwal added.

The Economic Times newspaper reported on Friday that cash-strapped Kingfisher faces fresh trouble as some companies who have lent aircraft to the loss-making airline plans to take them back, while another newsreport said about 130 staff pilots have quit in the past few weeks..

Kingfisher owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, and controlled by the UB Group, had in September announced it was shutting its low cost business to focus on the premium model. .

Kingfisher shares fell more than 17% in early trade and was down 14% at Rs 18.7 at 10:29am (0459 GMT).