The cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines' operations from tier-II and tier-III cities are likely to be affected until March end, industry sources said.
"The number of Kingfisher flights has come down to 160 a day from 240 flights a day. It is likely to continue like this. They seem to have shut down Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Srinagar, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Flights to more locations could be affected as they have lots of aircraft on ground," an industry source said in Mumbai on Saturday.
The airline has not issued any statement on its Kolkata operations despite flights from Kolkata to Delhi, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Bagdogra, Aizwal, Silchar, Dhaka and Bangkok being taken off the ticketing sites.
Incidentally, KA has been directed by its lenders including the State Bank of India to reverse the nearly Rs 100-crore guarantee commission it paid to promoter Vijay Mallya and UB Holdings, as a pre-condition to consider the second round of bailout.
The airline had entered into an agreement with Mallya and his holding company, UB Holdings, whereby it paid them Rs 49.48 crore and Rs 58 crore respectively against the guarantees they provided for Rs 7,000-crore worth bank loans.
"Kingfisher flight bookings for several flights do not seem to be available until March 28. It seems flight tickets are not being sold. However, technically speaking flights are being shown as available on the airline's global distribution systems. The company does not seem to have informed anything to their travel agents and the travel trade fraternity either. So, there is a lot of confusion in the market over Kingfisher Airlines' operations," a Delhi-based travel industry source said.
Repeated attempts to reach Kingfisher officials for comment failed.
Sources also said the Mumbai-Delhi flight bookings are shut, as KA has cancelled Delhi-Bangalore and Delhi-Pune flights. Its Bangkok station has also been shut down. There has also been no internal communication to employees about why this has happened, sources said.
The development comes after Friday's confusion when Kingfisher Airline's employees in the commercial, cargo and engineering sections protested at Kolkata Airport over non-payment of salaries, leaving 24 Bhubaneswar-bound passengers and 174 Mumbai-bound passengers in lurch.
Sources said that while the Bhubaneswar flight was cancelled, protests by Mumbai-bound passengers led to intervention by airport officials and the flight was operated later in the evening. The schedule of flights today and tomorrow are not clear yet with adamant employees still protesting unless salaries are paid.