Airports may be told to return Kingfisher planes to lessors

With India's reputation as an aircraft lessor taking a beating over the non-return of aircraft leased by the grounded Kingfisher Airlines to their owners, the civil aviation ministry may issue a guidance to release all Kingfisher Airlines aircraft parked at Indian airports to international leasing companies.

The move comes in the wake of growing disquiet among major leasing companies over India's refusal to hand over the aircraft, leading to fears in the government that much-needed aircraft finance would be stopped to Indian airline companies.

Aircraft finance leader International Lease Finance Corp on Wednesday told India to release six aircraft leased by Kingfisher Airlines, which it said are ''held hostage" by a bureaucratic dispute after Kingfisher failed to pay for them.

The Los Angeles based ILFC had warned in January that a failure to return the leased aircraft to their owners when India's airlines cannot pay their bills could put the country's aviation growth at risk by scaring off funding.

Civil aviation secretary K N Srivastava is now in the process of issuing a letter to all airport operators in "three or four days", directing airports to release aircraft that have been de-registered by the authorities and are no longer held by Kingfisher.

"This would happen very soon," Arun Mishra, director-general of civil aviation (DGCA), told The Economic Times.