Kingfisher Financial Crisis – Leased Aircraft Taken Back
A large number of Kingfisher Aircraft remain out of service as the airline struggles to not only keep their aircraft, but pay their employees. Recent lease returns of aircraft Kingfisher could not pay for have been seen at Canadian airports, including Goose Bay, as they make their way back to leasing companies in North America.
VT-KFQ, an Airbus A321 in Kingfisher Livery, recently made the trip through Goose Bay, Canada. Rumor has it the aircraft will soon be re-leased to a Mexican Airline.
Kingfisher is currently pleading with their pilots to come into work; it has been reported they have not been paid, along with other employee groups. At the moment, Kingfisher’s bank accounts are said to be frozen by the Indian Government for not paying taxes on-time.
Kingfisher Airlines issued a statement on March 4 indicating Kingfisher CEO, Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, met with a group of pilots and appealed they continue with their flying duties as not coming into work would potentially affect the operating schedule.
The statement further indicated, “At no time was there any suggestion that Kingfisher Airlines would shut down.” The statement continued, “We are trying our very best to co-operate with the tax authorities and get our accounts un-frozen at the earliest so that normalcy could be restored, employee salaries paid and further aircraft recoveries started.”
While it is not clear if their pilots will continue to work, the statement concluded, “Our flights are operating as per schedule and we truly appreciate the continued dedication and commitment of all staff to our valued guests.”
The airline has also faced problems with IATA and has been suspended from their clearing house (ICH) due to alleged non-payment, but the carrier continues to indicate the suspension being the result of a technical fault.
Attempts to call Kingfisher Airlines have been met by automated messages advising passengers to send emails to a variety of e-mail addresses depending on the nature of the inquiry or problem. Waiting on the line produced no results, other than a disconnection after 30 minutes. We view this as a clear indication their call centers have a barebone staff.
Of the 64 aircraft in their fleet, it has been said only 20 are being used. The airline claimed the other aircraft were grounded due to “bird strikes” and then finally admitted it was a result of their financial problems.
Last, several winding up petitions have been filed against the carrier for non-payment; the status of these petitions are not clear at the moment.