Ailing Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines is appealing to its pilots to show up for work and to the tax authorities to unfreeze its bank accounts as speculation about its possible shutdown continues.

The country's tax department froze the airline's bank accounts for the fourth time last week, after it failed to make outstanding payments on 29 February.

"We are trying our best to cooperate with the tax authorities and get our accounts unfrozen at the earliest so that normalcy could be restored, employee salaries paid and further aircraft recoveries started," said the airline's vice-president of corporate communications, Prakash Mirpuri.

He added that chief executive Sanjay Aggarwal met with some pilots to "appeal to them not to stay away from flying duties" to avoid potentially affecting the airline's operating schedule.

However, the Indian media reported that Aggarwal met with the pilots on 1 March, could not commit on when the salaries will be paid and even threatened a shutdown when the pilots said they may not fly unless they are paid.

The media reports added that civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said should the directorate general of civil aviation be concerned with the airline's inability to pay its staff affecting safety, Kingfisher's operating licence could be temporarily suspended.

"At no time was there any suggestion that Kingfisher Airlines wouldshut down," Mirpuri said.

"Our flights are operating as per schedule and we truly appreciate the continued dedication and commitment of all staff to our valued guests."

The cash-strapped carrier has grounded about a third of its fleet of 68 aircraft. It earlier said bird strikes rendered the aircraft out of service, but later changed stance, saying that their frozen bank accounts meant they were unable to make any operational payments.

Last week, Flightglobal Pro reported the UK High Court's ruling that the airline owes the Bank of Scotland $21.6 million in overdue lease payments for 10 ATR 72-500s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news