Ailing Kingfisher Airlines, which was suspended by IATA for non-payment of dues two days ago, would not join the global airlines' grouping 'oneworld' as slated later this month due to its precarious financial position.
"Kingfisher Airlines and 'oneworld' on Saturday agreed to put the airline's entry into the alliance on hold to give it time to strengthen its financial position," a joint statement issued last night said.
The liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned carrier was slated to formally join the alliance on February 10.
The development came a day after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suspended Kingfisher from its Geneva-based clearing house (ICH) due to non-payment of dues to airline members.
Like other global alliances, 'oneworld' includes 12 of the world's leading airlines and 20 affiliated carriers, like American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair Japan Airlines (JAL), Qantas and Royal Jordanian. Together, these airlines operate nearly 10,000 daily flights to more than 750 destinations across the globe.
The statement quoted 'oneworld' CEO Bruce Ashby as saying that "these are turbulent times for the airline industry in India and in many other parts of the world. We have been working closely with Kingfisher over the past months and it has become increasingly clear recently that the airline needs more time to resolve the financial issues it is confronting before it can be welcomed into oneworld."
He said the alliance would set a new joining date for Kingfisher "once it is through this current period of turbulence".
Mallya was quoted as saying that in view of "many priorities centred around Kingfisher's recapitalisation efforts, we felt it prudent to defer our entry into the alliance for a little while."
"This would allow the airline to focus on the issues at hand," he said, adding, "We look forward to being part of the alliance very shortly."
Kingfisher Airlines slid from a net loss of Rs 263 crore in the first quarter of 2011-12 to a net loss of Rs 469 crore in the 2nd quarter of the fiscal. DGCA has also asked the airline to redouble its recapitalisation efforts and ensure that safety parameters are not compromised at any cost.