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India's Kingfisher curtails overseas operations

15 march 2012, 14:42
0
A Kingfisher Airlines aircraft makes its final approach for landing at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. ©AFP
A Kingfisher Airlines aircraft makes its final approach for landing at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. ©AFP
India's beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines said Wednesday it had curtailed its overseas flights to avoid losing further cash as it struggles to stay in the air, AFP reports.

"We would like to confirm that we are curtailing our wide-body overseas operations that are bleeding heavily," spokesman Prakash Mirpuri said in a statement.

The debt-laden carrier has returned one Airbus A330-200, a mid-sized long-haul airliner, to its lessor in Britain, but it did not say how many flights would be affected.

Kingfisher, which has also been hit by a pilot strike over unpaid wages, flies to eight overseas destinations, including London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

The carrier has never turned a profit since its launch in 2005 and owes millions of dollars to suppliers, lenders and staff, while its bank accounts have been frozen by Indian authorities due to the non-payment of taxes.

It was forced to cancel nearly half of its total flights on Tuesday when it operated only 101 out of the 175 expected. It plans to run the same number on Wednesday.

It said it expects to return to its full schedule shortly, but has given no timeframe.

"Kingfisher apologises to all those who were affected," it said.

The firm's chairman, liqour baron Vijay Mallya, will meet pilots' representatives on Thursday in New Delhi in a bid to resolve matters, the statement said.

The airline said it promises to "protect their jobs" as well as pay their salaries.

Kingfisher said its schedule was also "greatly influenced" after it was suspended last week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) from a global payments system.

The airline's net loss widened sharply to 4.44 billion rupees ($88 million) in the three months to December from a loss of 2.54 billion rupees a year earlier, while its debt totals at least $1.3 billion.

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