Curtains for Kingfisher Airlines

Courtesy AFP

Courtesy AFP

IT  looks like the fat lady has sung for Kingfisher Airlines. Or has she really?

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has withdrawn international flying rights and domestic slots from the debt-ridden airline whose licence expired at the end of 2012 and which has been grounded since October last year. The company has up to two years to apply for a reinstatement.

The reason cited by the authorities was one of non-operations, and a long awaited decision since so many other airlines are said to be waiting to take up Kingfisher’s slots. One senior official reportedly said the wait for Kingfisher to restart operations “cannot be an endless one.” The airline’s international operations cover Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the UK.

But a statement issued by Kingfisher said it is still “confident of securing approval” from the authorities for a plan that it submitted, even as hope of rescue from foreign interests has all but waned. AirAsia has snubbed that possibility when it announced recently it would set up a joint venture with non-aviation partners Tata and Bhatia. (see AirAsia boosts Indian confidence in new joint venture, Feb 21, 2013). And Etihad Airways in evaluating Kingfisher against Jet Airways seems to favour the latter.

If the fat lady is still singing, its voice may peter out quietly. Broken and unwanted, Kingfisher, which has not made a profit since inception in May 2005 with accumulated losses of US$1.9 billion, has waited too long.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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