Mumbai airport authorities seize seven Kingfisher planes
Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) has seized seven Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) aircraft for non-payment of airport dues, an official source said Tuesday.
MIAL has already served two notices to Kingfisher demanding clearance of dues totalling Rs.53 crore.
"Until the long-pending dues are cleared, we shall not let them fly these aircraft, which are in our control," an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
The dues pertain to parking charges, navigation and other services offered by MIAL in the normal course of airlines operations.
Despite repeated attempts by IANS over the past four days, KFA officials failed to give their comments in the matter. The details of the type of aircraft that have been seized were not immediately available.
Owned by liquor-king and MP Vijay Mallya, KFA has been grounded since Oct 1 due to financial and labour problems. Later that month, its flying licence was also suspended by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
In view of the resource crunch, KFA has failed to clear its airport dues for the past few months.
MIAL has sent at least two notices with specific deadlines to clear the dues, specifiying that it would not permit KFA aircraft to operate from Mumbai airport otherwise, the official said.
"Since they have not responded to the dues notice, we have taken control of their aircraft. They will not be permitted to fly till the full dues are cleared," he said.
He said the huge space occupied by KFA aircraft could have been better and productively utilised, especially since Mumbai airport was severely short of open space.
Discussions are already under way with other private carriers to allocate them the space but a final decision on the matter is pending till KFA clears the dues.
KFA problems escalated with the Oct 1 strike call by a section of its pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers over non-payment of salaries and other dues since March.
The strike was called off Oct 24 after KFA agreed to clear all the pending dues in a phased manner.
According to estimates, KFA has accumulated losses of over Rs.10,000 crore since May 2005.
A consortium of 17 lenders, led by the State Bank of India, had set a deadline of Nov 30 for KFA to organise a minimum Rs.5,000 crore working capital before its plea for additional working capital loans could be considered.