Kingfisher to suspend all international operations

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Ailing Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines will be suspending all international flights and reducing domestic operations in its latest move to stay afloat.

"We have decided to suspend our international operations as we are not on IATA platforms. So, there is no sense flying abroad," its chairman Vijay Mallya told reporters after a meeting with India's director general of civil aviation, Bharat Bhusan, on 20 March.

Mallya had been summoned to brief the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the airline's situation and to provide a recovery plan.

International flights will likely be suspended in late March.

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Earlier, Bhusan had told reporters that the carrier's financial situation and unscheduled cancellation of flights are a cause for concern.

"I do not think this situation can go on," he adds.

The country's civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has also said that Kingfisher has to submit a recovery plan to the DGCA and keep to the plan in order to continue operations.

"They have been giving DGCA plans, but have not adhered to them. Mr Mallya has been called to see what plans he has. If the DGCA gives a report that safety cannot be assured with all the problems they have, we will certainly take action. [In addition to] suspending them, we can cancel their licence also," says Ajit.

"Everyone feels that it's the final chance that Kingfisher has to give a credible plan which they can adhere to, to save themselves. It just cannot continue like this," Ajit adds.

The carrier, which was operating over 400 flights with its fleet of 64 aircraft last year, now operates about 100 flights daily with 20 aircraft.

Last week, the beleaguered carrier said it was curtailing overseas widebody flights which are "bleeding heavily", and has returned one Airbus A330-200 to a lessor. Before the curtailment, Kingfisher had an extensive overseas route network serving destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

It was suspended from IATA's Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS) on 8 March when it failed to provide a cash deposit. This suspension means Kingfisher can no longer sell and settle its accounts with travel and cargo agents through the two IATA systems.

On 7 March, it was suspended from IATA's Clearing House payment system because it did not settle its accounts before the deadline.

Airline staff, including pilots, have not been paid in months.