Kingfisher Airlines may have to return the last of the four aircraft it had leased from US aircraft leasing company GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS), as the Karnataka High Court has rejected Kingfisher's plea to hang on to the Airbus A 320 plane. Kingfisher had earlier returned three leased aircraft to GECAS.
"The fear expressed by KAL (Kingfisher) as to the collapse of its business if the reliefs claimed in the application were not granted are obviously ill-founded, as it has emerged unscathed till date," the court said.
GECAS, one of the world's biggest aircraft lessors, had issued a notice to Kingfisher last September and rounded up the four jets, alleging delay in payment towards lease rentals and maintenance reserves.
"We have already returned three aircraft, and the fourth aircraft is under maintenance prior to return. GECAS also has in excess of $8 million cash in their possession from Kingfisher Airlines. We have recourse to appeal, if we so choose," a Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson said.
Aviation was one of the sectors worst hit by the spiralling global crude price during first two quarters of the current fiscal. Around 26 airlines across the world went bust because of high fuel bills last year. Many Indian airlines defaulted on lease rental payments to aircraft lessors and failed to clear fuel bills of oil companies.
Following the court order, Kingfisher has handed over three aircraft to GECAS. The lone aircraft that is yet to be redelivered is grounded as its engines are with Pratt and Whitney, whose claim towards maintenance charges is a point of dispute between the parties.