India’s Kingfisher Airlines has announced plans to resume operations by March even though the country’s aviation authority has refused to renew its operating license, citing the company’s failure to provide evidence of sufficient funding.
The airline lost its operating permit after a deadline to reinstate its suspended license expired Dec. 31. But the airline says it is “confident” of gaining approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to relaunch operations in March with seven aircraft.
“There is no cause for concern as the regulations permit license renewal within two years of expiry,” says an airline spokesman, adding, “We are in the process of replying to concerns raised by the regulator and [will] shortly submit a fresh revival plan.”
Kingfisher’s suspension arose from a labor dispute over unpaid salaries that grounded the airline on Oct. 1. This resulted in a temporary suspension and a demand by airline regulators to file a strategic plan illustrating how Kingfisher could resume services.
The plan was filed in December, but the proposal “wasn’t backed by details of funding,” says a Civil Aviation Ministry spokesman. He adds that while Kingfisher can seek a license renewal within two years of its expiration, the airline must still meet the same operational and financial aspects required by the recently rejected filing.
“We are not restoring the permit, even though Kingfisher has applied for it,” the ministry spokesman adds.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh also told local media on Jan. 2 that, “If Kingfisher wants to fly again, they have to satisfy the DGCA. They don’t have a satisfactory operating plan today. If they decide to operate today, then the rule says they don’t have to go through paperwork which a new operator has to. All they have to present is a satisfactory operating plan to the DGCA, who would ensure financial stability before being allowed to fly.”
Kingfisher is currently in talks with a consortium of banks to restructure some 80 billion rupees ($1.5 billion) in debt and is negotiating with investors about the possible sale of a large stake in the carrier.