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KFA too big to fail: Ajit Singh

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh today ruled out cancelling the licence of Kingfisher Airlines even as the carrier continued to curtail its daily flight operations due to a cash crunch, an exodus of pilots and operational reasons.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2012 23:04 IST

Kingfisher Airlines’ (KFA) permit would not be cancelled so long as it meets the minimum requirement of having five operational aircraft in its fleet.

“We don’t want Kingfisher Airlines to shut down. We do not have any plans to cancel Kingfisher’s licence. An airline can operate if has at least five planes in its fleet,” aviation minister Ajit Singh was quoted as having said by IANS.

The Aviation ministry, meanwhile, has moved a cabinet note on allowing foreign airlines pick 49% stake in Indian carriers – a move that could help carriers like KFA survive.

The new schedule submitted by KFA to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is being analysed by the regulator, which has also sought from Airport Authority of India, details of unused KFA slots.

The airline is in danger of losing valuable slots at airports across the country. The cash-strapped carrier that is left with only 28 operational aircraft has been cancelling 30-60 flights a day for past one week. The cancellations continued on Thursday.

KFA was allotted 418 slots in the winter schedule. After it cancelled flights last November, its slots were reduced to 240. DGCA has said KFA can operate only 175 flights with its current fleet.

Asked whether any punitive action would be taken against the beleaguered carrier for flouting the aircraft rules, Singh said, “DGCA is considering all that. They have received some reports. Right now our priority is to see how many flights they can operate and make sure they are perfectly safe.”

“Civil aviation is a vital sector for economic growth. We are changing a lot of policies. (The sector) has to be encouraged, it has to grow,” he said. The Income Tax department had a meeting with the KFA management on Thursday but there was no word on de-freezing its bank accounts.

KFA has told DGCA it has 521 pilots at present and plans to have another 16 aircraft operational soon.

First Published: Feb 22, 2012 14:53 IST