The aviation industry regulator has dismissed the explanation given by Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) for its sudden large-scale cancellation of flights but has ruled out any punitive action against the bleeding carrier hit by staff exodus, tax problems and mounting debt.
The airline controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya has blamed the cancellations on the freezing of its bank accounts by income tax department, which took the action after KFA failed to deposit tax deducted from employees’ salaries and vendors for close to two years. The chief of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), E.K. Bharat Bhushan told reporters after meeting Mallya’s aides that Kingfisher’s contention was "unacceptable".
Under aircraft rules, airlines require to have prior approval of the DGCA to curtail their flight schedules, which KFA did not.
The DGCA gave Kingfisher until Wednesday to come up with a “realistic” flight schedule even as over 50 flights were cancelled or delayed on Tuesday.
“Whatever needs to be done will be in consultation with the aviation ministry. The airline will have to file a new schedule instead of a truncated one in the next 24 hours,” Bhushan said after meeting CEO Sanjay Aggarwal and other top officials. “Some more information has been sought by DGCA which will be provided in the next 24 hours,” Aggarwal said.
Bhushan said he would submit a report on the discussions to the ministry. “I will also submit a separate report on the closure of their Kolkata operations as Kolkata is the gateway to the Northeast. The government has issued directions that flights to that region should not be affected,” he said.
The airline said it would soon resume its Kolkata operations. “We have found that only 28 out of 64 aircraft are operating,” the DGCA chief said. With this fleet size, KFA can operate 175 flights a day. As per the current schedule, it has 240 slots.