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Kingfisher Airlines seeks approval from DGCA to start ops

Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said they would examine the plan thoroughly before taking a call.

New Delhi: After remaining grounded for over six months, Kingfisher Airlines today sought regulatory approvals to relaunch its operations and submitted plans to the DGCA on infusion of funds and revival of its flights.

"We have shared the funding and traffic plans. The initial funding to restart the airline will come from the (parent UB) Group. We have also requested that our (flying) licence be renewed," the airline's CEO Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters after meeting DGCA chief Arun Mishra here.

Sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said they would examine the plan thoroughly before taking a call.

Kingfisher's flying licence or the Scheduled Operator's Permit (SOP) was suspended in October and later lapsed in December after the airline was grounded following a strike by its employees, including pilots, over non-payment of dues.

The meeting came months after DGCA sought written commitment from the promoters of the airline that additional funds will be infused by the parent company.

According to the plan submitted today, Kingfisher would resume limited operations with five Airbus A-320 and two turboprop ATR aircraft and gradually step up its operations by increasing the number of planes to 20.

Though Aggarwal did not say by when he planned to relaunch the flights, the sources said Kingfisher cannot resume operations before Winter Schedule starting October.

Aggarwal also claimed that Kingfisher has "everything required to restart the airline" and said "we have submitted the NOCs (no objection certificates) also", but did not clarify which of its vendors had given the NOCs.

The sources said while Kingfisher had obtained NOC from private airport operators, it was yet to get NOCs from the Airports Authority of India, tax authorities and banks.

"They (Kingfisher) want to go ahead and therefore have requested for renewal of their SOP so that further action can be taken to restart the airline," a source said.

Terming the latest revival plan as "more practical", the sources said Kingfisher has offered to pay the staff their salary dues till January. "The airline wants its licence to be renewed so that it can raise money after resuming operations."

Agarwal told DGCA that the airline planned to start the operations immediately after renewal of its SOP and try to repair other planes once the operations start.

On funding of the beleaguered carrier, the airline CEO said the UB Group has secured the permission of the shareholders to put funds in the airlines, the sources said.

The cash-strapped airline has also requested the AAI to allow them to fly on cash-and-carry basis.
Kingfisher top-brass, including promoter Vijay Mallya, have held several meetings with DGCA and Civil Aviation Ministry officials over the past few months to try and convince them to allow the airline to fly again.

The Ministry officials had then made it clear that they were not satisfied by Kingfisher's plans, which entailed infusion of Rs 650 crore by the parent company, as it may not guarantee efficient and reliable services.

Earlier this month, the airline paid salary dues of two months to its employees who have not been paid for past 10 months, after DGCA warned that its licence would not be renewed till it cleared dues of its staffers and all vendors.

A consortium of banks have lent over Rs 7,500 crore to the now defunct airline and has been refusing to lend any more money to it till the promoters infuse more funds.

Kingfisher owes an estimated Rs 13,582 crore to banks, its staff, airport operators and oil companies. It reported a net loss of Rs 755.17 crore for the third quarter ending December 31, a period in which it did not operate a single flight.

To recover their money, the banks' consortium, led by the SBI, have started selling shares of the parent company, United Spirits, pledged with them. They have already sold around 7.3 lakh of the 26 lakh shares.