Domestic and international flying slots to Kingfisher withdrawn
Spelling more trouble for beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines, government on Monday announced withdrawal of all domestic and international flying slots of the grounded carrier with immediate effect and decided to allot them to other Indian airlines.
"These traffic rights have been withdrawn from Kingfisher Airlines on account of non-utilisation by the airline. It used to have as many as 126 flying slots for international flights to eight countries which have now been withdrawn," a civil aviation ministry official said.
Flying or airport slots are rights allocated to a scheduled airline by an airport operator or government agency, granting the slot owner the right to schedule a landing or departure during a specific time period.
The withdrawal of these slots would make available approximately 25,000 seats per week for use by other Indian carriers to these eight countries, some of which are much in demand by Kingfisher's Indian competitors, the official said.
Keeping this in mind, the Ministry has decided to allot the international slots, which are decided by the bilateral air services agreement between India and these countries.
The countries to which Kingfisher used to operate are the UK (seven flights each week), the UAE (21 flights per week), Thailand (21 flights), Nepal (seven), Bangladesh (14), Sri Lanka (35), Hong Kong (14) and Singapore (seven).
"These traffic rights were allocated to Kingfisher between 2008 and 2011," the official said.
Similarly, the government also decided to withdraw the domestic slots which were allocated to Kingfisher at different airports across the country to mount domestic flights, he said, adding that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been directed to make these slots available to other domestic carriers as per their demand.
When contacted, a Kingfisher spokesperson declined to comment on the development.
In October last year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had temporarily suspended the Scheduled Operator Permit (SOP) or flying permit of the Vijay Mallya-promoted carrier following a strike by its pilots and engineers over non-payment of salaries for several months that completely grounded its fleet.
The SOP then expired on December 31. A week before this, the beleaguered airline submitted an interim revival plan to the aviation regulator to resume limited operations.
But the DGCA was not happy with the plan. It sought more information on the funding and payment of dues and decided not to allow the airlines to take to air till it met a series of conditions, including payment of dues to its employees and various service providers like airport operators.
Failing to provide any credible input, Kingfisher's lenders - a consortium of banks - also decided earlier this month to start the process of recovering Rs. 7,500 crore outstanding loans from the grounded airline.