Kingfisher bailout still uncertain

Having cancelled around 30 flights in major metro cities on Wednesday – leaving passengers stranded for at least the fourth day running – the troubled Kingfisher Airlines has submitted a truncated flight plan to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to operate with the 28 planes it has that are still airworthy.

The cancellations and new flight schedule were announced after the DGCA, concerned with the plight of suddenly stranded passengers, on Wednesday gave the airline 24 hours to come up with a new and workable flight schedule. Kingfisher emailed a revised flight schedule to the regulator, envisaging 170 flights a day. The new winter schedule would be operative till March-end.

Kingfisher also partially resumed flights from Kolkata operating four to the Northeast though it cancelled 14 from Mumbai, eight from Bangalore and two from Delhi. The entire Kolkata operations were shut down from Friday night.

Director General of Civil Aviation E K Bharat Bhushan also briefed civil aviation minister Ajit Singh about his discussion with the airline's management. Apart from the large-scale cancellations, DGCA is also probing whether financial constraints have in any way compromised passenger safety.

Kingfisher at its peak had 64 aircraft; but most of these have either been repossessed by lessors, or are awaiting repairs, or have been cannibalised for parts to keep other planes airborne.

Corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily said that he had sympathy for Mallya but blamed bad governance and lack of professional management for the present situation of the airlines, but added that his ministry wants that company to survive.