India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has moved to strike Paramount Airways off the list of the country's scheduled airlines, a measure that could result in the de-registration of the carrier.
Under Indian regulations, an airline must have at least five aircraft in order to be on the list of scheduled carriers. Paramount fails to meet this requirement, says a DGCA official.
The airline's three Embraer E-175s, which it leased from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), were de-registered on 19 March due to its inability to meet payments. ECC Leasing, which owns the two E-170s in Paramount's fleet, has also applied to deregister its aircraft for the same reason, says a DGCA source.
"Paramount had only five aircraft and its three E-175s are being sent back to Europe. Of the two remaining E-170s, one is still flying and the other is grounded due to technical reasons. ECC Leasing wants back those aircraft, which are in the process of being de-registered. Paramount clearly does not meet the requirements for being a scheduled airline in India," says the official.
"We have sent them a notice saying that we intend to move them from the list of scheduled airlines to non-scheduled operators. Paramount has some time to show cause. We will make a decision soon after they respond, maybe in the next week or so."
Paramount, which is based in Southern India, has been operating limited services from Chennai to nearby cities such as Goa, Pune and Ahmedabad since the E-175s were grounded. It has, however, cancelled most of its regular services.
A spokesman reiterates that Paramount is keen to restart operations, and adds that it will get new aircraft shortly.
"We are talking to different people, but we can't say who at this point and for what type of aircraft. We hope to conclude the deals within the next 15 days or so, and fund this through internal accruals," adds the spokesman.
He adds that the airline is "still in discussions" with ECC Leasing to keep the E-170s.
GECAS is asking the Indian courts to help it get back the money that it says Paramount owes, and the case is likely to be heard next week. The airline's spokesman, however, says that GECAS "actually owes us money from our deposits".
Paramount signed a memorandum of understanding for 10 Airbus A321s at the 2009 Paris Airshow, but the airline did not firm up the order.