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Government may cancel Kingfisher Airlines' license, hints Aviation Minister Ajit Singh

New Delhi, Tue, 20 Mar 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Mar 20 (ANI): Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday said the government might cancel Kingfisher Airlines' license if safety norms and financial viability conditions were not met.


Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Singh said the cash-strapped carrier, which is now operating just 18 planes, had failed to stick to its recovery plan.


"If he (Vijay Mallya) gives a plan where he says that I will have that many plans, that much schedule, then why should we cancel? What the problem is that in last two three months he has given several plans and he has not adhered to any one of them. So, that is the problem," said Singh.


Earlier in the day, Mallya met with the head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to discuss potential recovery plans.


Kingfisher Airlines, which has a debt of 1.3 billion dollars, is facing collapse as banks have refused to lend more for day-to-day operations.


Adding to its woes, a massive cutback in flights has reduced revenues, leaving the carrier with little cash to pay its employees, airports and tax authorities.


Singh added the government's main concern was to ensure passenger safety on the limited number of flights that Kingfisher was still running.


"Listen, as the government we don't want to shut down any industry or airline, their employees, their customers. Now Kingfisher had 22 percent of the traffic, if you close it down suddenly then what will happen to the passengers, you know where the fares will go if that happens. So, as long as passenger safety is not jeopardised we gave them all the chance," he said.


The airline is one of the main casualties of high fuel costs and a fierce price war between a handful of budget carriers, which have ordered hundreds of aircrafts for delivery over the next decade in an ambitious bet on the future.


Rising jet fuel prices and cutthroat fare competition have taken their toll across the Indian airline industry despite passenger growth of nearly 20 percent last year.


Five out of six major carriers are losing money and analysts estimate the industry is on course to lose 3 billion dollars for the year ending next month. (ANI)


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