Kingfisher finally klipped

I have been sadly waiting for this moment for some time. Kingfisher Airlines has had its scheduled Operator Permit suspended by India’s aviation regulator: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)  The authority stated that  Kingfisher Airlines had failed to come up with a viable plan for its financial and operational revival and had not resolved the impasse with employees over non payment of salaries.  News Report here. (Photo from Reuters Media)

The airline has been tasked on October 5 to show cause as to why licence should not be suspended on October 20. Kingfisher asked for more time yesterday and said they planned to be in the air again November 6.

All of Kingfisher Airlines’ ten planes are now grounded and bookings are halted.  Although I just checked and the website is still live. When booking a flight, though, a  message appears ” all flights subject to regulatory approval” and then the next screen stated “no flights available on that sector” instructing me to call the Call Centre!

Kingfisher Airlines started as a bold experiment in redefining Indian air travel by its owner United Breweries Group, just seven years ago.  Kingfisher was the first Indian airline to have an in-flight entertainment systems for every passenger.  All passengers were given a “welcome kit” consisting of a bottle of lemonade and gifts including pens, headphones.

At its peak,  Kingfisher Airlines had the second largest share in India’s domestic air travel market and connected 60 domestic destinations and six international destinations. At that time, it had 66 aircraft with 92 on order.  Kingfisher was a customer for the Airbus A380 (five on order). Most of the carrier’s fleet was repossessed by lessors between March and June, 2012. IATA cancelled membership in March It was due to become a One World Alliance member and was listed as one of the top 100 most trusted brands in India by The Brand Trust Report.  Vijay Mallya, CEO faces questioning over cheques he bounced for two million dollars. Small change for a carrier that has debts estimated at one billion dollars and has not paid staff for months.

If this is the final death knell, then Kingfisher will be the 21st airline to go in 2012. I wonder if their staff will ever see their salaries.


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