Will resume flights from 6 November, says Kingfisher

Kingfisher Airlines, grounded from almost the beginning of this month because it doesn't have the money to keep aloft, continues to sound positive in the face of every indication that it is on its death-bed.

The airline, owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya - the 'king of good times' - issued a statement on Friday saying it expects to resume flights on 6 November – assuming that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gives its permission.

Most observers consider this an over-optimistic claim, as the DGCA has not given Kingfisher any slot in its winter schedule that runs from November to March. There is also no sign that its striking pilots and engineers, unpaid since March, will return to work.

The best offer the airline's management could make earlier this week was to pay them a month's salary, with the balance to be paid at an unspecified date. This offer has been flatly rejected by the employees.

At the same time, the airline's financiers, led by State Bank of India, have made it clear that no further loans will be forthcoming to the sinking airline. Mallya got some of the accounts frozen by various authorities reactivated last week, but these are hardly enough to cover its employees' salaries, to say nothing of various other dues.

Kingfisher Airlines issued its response on Friday after the DGCA asked why its licence should not be cancelled for failing to provide a "safe, efficient and reliable service".

"Currently we anticipate resuming operations on 6 November, subject to our resumption plan being reviewed and approved by the DGCA," Kingfisher said in its statement.

The airline last week said its planes would remain grounded at least until 23 October, but every indication suggests that this is an optimistic estimate.