Suspension of Kingfisher licence on cards: Officials

Looking to resume ops on November 6

Suspension of Kingfisher licence on cards: Officials

Suspension of licence stares in the face of crisis-ridden Kingfisher Airlines as it extended its lockout till October 23 and submitted a reply to aviation regulator DGCA’s showcause notice on the matter.

Reacting to the airline’s reply on Friday, official sources said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was consulting legal experts on what action - suspension or cancellation of flying licence - could be taken against Kingfisher for failing to resolve the 21-day impasse with its employees over non-payment of seven-month salary dues and resuming operations.

“We will take a view on this very soon... probably within a couple of days,” a source said, replying in affirmative when asked whether suspension was on the cards.
Among the options could be suspension of flying licence or giving the airline some more time.

The DGCA had issued showcause notice on October 5, to the liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned airline asking why its flying licence should not be suspended or cancelled as it was not adhering to its flight schedule and “abruptly cancelling its flights, time and again, during the last 10 months”, causing great inconvenience to the travelling public.

Later, the airline issued a statement saying it had extended the partial lockout until October 23, 2012. The management and striking employees had engaged in talks on Wednesday but failed to come to an agreement on the issue.

“Currently, we anticipate resuming operations on November 6, subject to our resumption plan being reviewed and approved by the DGCA.”

Lenders meet this month

The beleaguered airline will also face a fresh challenge at the end of this month when its lenders meet to decide on the course of action in the wake of its Rs 7,000-crore debt. The earlier meeting on September 27 proved unsuccessful after KFA Chairman Vijay Mallya failed to come up with specific information on prospective foreign investors evincing interest in KFA that could have triggered hopes of its revival.

The official sources made it clear that Kingfisher could not resume operations till the DGCA gave the final clearance.

The beleaguered carrier did not mention extension of the lockout in their “open-ended” reply to DGCA, they said, adding that the airline, in its letter, sought more time to prepare a response to the DGCA notice but did not give any deadline. Kingfisher was issued an airline licence on August 26, 2003. It was actually issued to Air Deccan which was bought over by Kingfisher. It is valid till December 31 this year.

Suspension of flying licence, which is generally until further orders, would entail immediate halt to all bookings on the entire Kingfisher network as well as through travel agents, the sources said. Whenever the airline approaches DGCA that they were ready to resume operations, the regulator would satisfy itself that the airline was fully prepared to fly, including preparedness of the staff to operate flights, the airline's capacity to pay for the operations and all safety measures.

In case of cancellation of the licence, the airline will have to apply afresh to the ministry in a long-drawn process.

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