New Delhi, Feb 21: Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday asked the ailing Kingfisher Airlines to furnish them with a revised flight schedule amid largescale cancellations roiling the carrier and air travel in India.
The DGCA chief after meeting Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal also said it would keep special surveillance on the Kingfisher flights during this period as a precaution to ensure passenger safety though there is not apparent security threat.
"We have taken stock today. They are operating 28 aircraft out of 64 and we have asked for a revised schedule of these 28 aircraft," DGCA chief Bharat Bhusan told reporters. He said the special surveillance by the DGCA is because it is "better to be cautious."
Bhusan said they have communicated their worry about the closing down on Kolkata operations since it is a gateway to the air service to the Northeast. "We want the airline to get back on feet," Bhusan said, adding that the carrier was told in strongest term that passengers have to be given all information about cancellations.
He said Kingfisher has assured to pay salaries of December due by Feb end and clear the rest in course of time. Aggarwal told reporters that the meeting with DGCA was good.
"We were asked some questions. We will provide [answers] in 24 hours," he said. The CEO was summoned by the aviation regulator of India (DGCA) after the carrier started cancelling flights in large number since Sunday. The airline earlier had said it will appear before the DGCA Tuesday and "submit all details they want and also a plan to restore the full schedule."
Kingfisher reportedly had not informed the aviation regulator (DGCA) about the cancellations, though in media releases Saturday night it said at least 15 percent of the flights (around 32 daily) would be cancelled a day for four days. On the third day on Tuesday, more than 30 fights were cancelled too.
The loss-making Kingfisher Airlines on Monday said the prime reason for the ongoing disruption in flights is the sudden attachment of its bank accounts by the Income Tax department.
The airline owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya said in a statement: "The prime reason for the current disruption in our flight schedules is the sudden attachment of our bank accounts by the IT department. This has severely affected our ability to make operational payments leading to the present curtailment. The revised schedule has been updated in the system."
"We are in dialogue with the tax authorities to agree a payment plan and get the bank accounts unfrozen at the earliest. We are appealing to them to see reason that inconvenience to the travelling public is not in anybody's interests," it said.
The airline said the employee salaries can be paid and the grounded aircraft can be recovered quicker once the bank accounts are unfrozen and the schedule restored on priority.
"About 15% of our flights operating consistently for the past 3 months have been cancelled and we have done and are doing our best to inform guests in advance of cancellations and clubbing and to re-book them on other carriers," it said." If the guests so desire, we are offering them a full refund," it said.
"We’ve been in touch with the DGCA to keep them informed of the disruptions," Kingfisher had claimed in statements.
Kingfisher also informed that they have not approached the Government of India for any "bail out".
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the government cannot bail out any private airline but Kingfisher has presented a business plan to banks for finance and it is being considered by them sympathetically. "Our first concern is that passenger safety is not compromised. DGCA is part of the aviation ministry and they are doing their job," Singh said.