Kingfisher grounds 15 planes; pilot exodus continues

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines has grounded 15 aircraft after being unable to meet maintenance and overhaul expenses, according to a report.

"Kingfisher has grounded aircraft as it using these grounded aircraft as Christmas tree (taking parts from one aircraft to service need of other) to keep a certain number of aircraft active," The Economic Times cited a person familiar with the development as saying anonymously.

The cash-strapped airline is looking for funds from investors and a softer stand from banks to stay afloat. On 13 December, it asked some 50-60 junior pilots to leave within 48 hours. They were not permitted to serve out their notice periods.

A number of pilots are serving out their notice periods; reports variously put this number at 100-140.

Kingfisher refused to comment on the grounding of planes but on the pilots' issue, a spokesperson for the airline said, "We have enough number of pilots to keep our aircraft operational."

Kingfisher, which has about 750 pilots, has not divulged how many pilots have left in the past one year.