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Kingfisher caught in a cleft stick.

DESPITE repeated warnings by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) to stick to its recovery plan following mass cancellations of its flights, Vijay Mallyaled Kingfisher Airlines ( KFA) on Wednesday announced further reduction in its flight schedule.

The airline, which also plans to curtail international services, said that it has returned wide- body airbus A330- 200 aircraft to a lessor in Britain as part of a strategy to cut costs.

" We would like to confirm that we are curtailing our wide- body overseas operations that are bleeding heavily," the airline said in a statement. It, however, did not clarify which international sectors will be affected and from when. The carrier flies to eight overseas destinations, including London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

" Reports on the airline's operations are being submitted on daily basis to the civil aviation ministry as flight cancellations have become regular," director general of civil aviation E. K. Bharat Bhushan said. " It a matter of grave concern to all, including the regulator. I must say that it is matter of concern because they ( Kingfisher) had given us the recovery plan for the airlines last month, which they have not maintained. The situation cannot go on like this.

Yesterday, they flew 98 flights. It is causing lot of distress to travellers," the DGCA chief told reporters in Hyderabad on the sidelines of Aviation India- 2012.

Last month, the airline had informed DGCA that it will be operating 140 flights daily. However, Kingfisher said that " despite the shortage of crew", it operated 101 flights on Tuesday.

In January, DGCA asked KFA to provide a specific timeline for getting its grounded aircraft back in the air and for its recapitalisation efforts. The airline cancelled hundreds of flights and grounded over 15 of its total 66 aircraft since December last year. It told DGCA that that it would fly 28 of its 64 planes till March- end.

Meanwhile, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has again reiterated that the government is not going to bailout Kingfisher.

" We have nothing to do with their financial position and we cannot bail out the private company from its financial mess.

That does not mean we want the airlines to be closed down," the minister said.


THE United Spirits Limited ( USL) stock has been rising in the last four trading days with the market abuzz that Vijay Mallya will dilute his stake in the company to mop up resources to pay back Kingfisher Airline's debt.

Some analysts said that the rise was due to the company's plans to raise $ 225 million through foreign currency convertible bonds to retire part of USL's own ` 7,700 crore debt.

On Wednesday, the USL stock closed with a gain of 3.04 per cent at ` 599.40 after touching the day's high of ` 613. In the previous three trading days, the stock gained 15 per cent on speculation over the stake sale. As on Wednesday, USL's market capitalisation has gone up to ` 7,839 crore.

Mallya has 28.1 per cent stake in USL. The buzz in the stock market is that spirits majors Diageo and William Grant among others are in the race to buy USL. " If he sells five to 10 per cent, he would generate sufficient funds to restructure Kingfisher. He can sell at ` 1,000 per share," said Kishor Ostwal, CMD, CNI Research. -- Mail Today Bureau

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Mar 15, 2012
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