Two days after claiming that it cancelled flights because bird strikes rendered its aircraft out of service, struggling Kingfisher Airlines yesterday issued another statement taking an altogether different stance.

"The prime reason for the current disruption in our flight schedules is the sudden attachment of our bank accounts by the income tax department. This has severely affected our ability to make operational payments leading to the present curtailment," said its spokesman Prakash Mirpuri.

He added that the carrier is in talks with the tax authorities to agree on a payment plan to get its "bank accounts unfrozen at the earliest".

With the accounts unfrozen, employee salaries can then be paid and grounded aircraft put back in service to restore its flight schedule, said Mirpuri, adding that about 15% of the carrier's flights, which were operating consistently for the past three months, have been cancelled.

Earlier, the airline said the recent disruptions will last for four days, during which only 208 daily flights will be operated.

The local media, however, reported that the carrier is only flying a quarter of its fleet of about 60 aircraft.

The carrier has also been summoned by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to account for its flight cancellations.

"We've been in touch with the DGCA to keep them informed of the disruptions," said Mirpuri, adding that the airline will be meeting with the authorities on Tuesday to submit requested details and its plan to restore its full schedule.

Kingfisher also reiterated that it has not approached the local government for any "bail out" and that it had a constructive meeting with its bank consortium last week.

In a previous statement, the carrier said the consortium has accepted "in princple" the viability study prepared by SBI Capital markets and independent consultants and that the carrier's "additional working capital has been acknowledged by the consortium and is subject to individual bank approvals".

While it added that it had enough flight and cabin crew to operate its schedule of flights, the carrier did not state how long the disruptions will last.

The loss-making carrier was first thrown in the spotlight last year when it cancelled a series of flights to reconfigure some of its aircraft to improve revenue production. It was recently suspended from IATA's Clearing House payment system because of its unsettled accounts and its entry into the Oneworld alliance was placed on hold earlier this month for the carrier to first sort out its financial woes.

Kingfisher reported a net loss of Indian rupees (Rs) 15.3 billion ($310 million) in its fiscal third quarter against a net loss of Rs2.54 billion for the same period a year earlier.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news