So Long, Kingfisher!

I’ve got reader mail in the past few days about what was going to eventually happen to Kingfisher Airlines. I have to admit I’ve been very busy offline to respond, but like I wrote in my last post about this airline, their license was at stake a few days back. And now, it is finally over.

Yesterday, the Indian aviation regulator DGCA, which had given Kingfisher Airlines 15 days to respond, finally went ahead and suspended the airlines’ aviation license. On October 5, Kingfisher Airlines received a notice from the regulator, with a 15-day timeline to respond. On October 19, Kingfisher responded back, asking for more time to respond to the notice. They had tried to convince the employees a couple of times by this date, and did not get much further with them. I don’t even think the employees got their salaries they were asking for!

The DGCA stated their reason to ‘suspend’ the license, because the airline did not respond back adequately with any plans or timelines to pay salaries, pay creditors, recapitalise the airlines, or any other items on the checklist which are needed to be done. The regulator infact also refused to approve the winter schedule of Kingfisher airlines a few days back. As per the DGCA, it did not want to inconvenience the public by having an airline in the air which operated in fits and starts.

The airline, which has had a sort of Laissez Faire approach to the whole issue for the past few months, again came up with a press release trying to play down the issue, pointing out that their license was suspended and not cancelled. Here is an extract:

This afternoon we received an order of the Director General of Civil Aviation suspending our scheduled operator’s permit. We would like to clarify that this is not a cancellation but a temporary suspension which is valid only till such time that we submit a concrete and reliable revival plan to the satisfaction of DGCA.

While this order is being examined,  we would like to bring to your notice that the actual position has not changed because of this order. We have in any case always maintained that once the issues with the employees are resolved, we will first present our resumption plan to DGCA for review, before resuming operations.

Notwithstanding the order of the DGCA, we had in any case suspended operations and closed forward bookings till November 6, 2012. The management has already earlier communicated to all stakeholders this very position.  We are now immediately suspending all forward bookings till such time we resume operations.

It is our endeavour to re-start operations at the earliest and we assure you we are working towards achieving this.

(emphasis mine)

Now, while miracles do happen, I won’t distinguish this suspension from a death of the airline, which is why my post sounds so obituary like. We’ll see what happens here on. They might just come back, in which case they should rename themselves Phoenix rather than Kingfisher this time around!

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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