Several Kingfisher Airlines aircraft that have been parked at various Indian airports have reportedly had parts and components stripped out of them.
The leasing companies that own these aircraft are looking into the legal options to get the airline, whose air operator's certificate was suspended by Indian regulators on 20 October, to fix their assets before they are returned.
"Some of our aircraft are sitting at Indian airports with the components taken out. We believe that Kingfisher began to remove these components and use them on the aircraft that, when it was unable to pay for them, it was unable to afford to buy components," says one executive at a leasing company who did not want to be identified.
He adds that other leasing companies face a similar problem, based on his conversations with his colleagues in those companies. Several of them are set to begin legal proceedings in Indian courts, he says.
The airline had only two aircraft deployed on scheduled services when it grounded its fleet on 1 October. It has 38 aircraft listed as being in storage, according to Flightglobal Pro data. The Airbus aircraft include two A319s, 11 A320s, six A321s and one A330-200. It also has two ATR 42-500s and 16 ATR 72-500s in storage.
Leasing companies that own Kingfisher's aircraft include International Lease Finance, AWAS, BOC Aviation and DVB Aviation Finance Asia, according to Flightglobal Pro data.
The only Kingfisher aircraft in active service is an A319 with the registration VT-VJM, which is owned by the Cayman Islands-headquartered CJ Leasing. Industry sources say that this is Kingfisher chairman Vijay Mallya's personal Airbus Corporate Jet, on which he travelled out of India last week before the airline's AOC was suspended.
Kingfisher grounded its fleet and suspended operations after several employees, some of whom were said to have not been paid for months, went on strike. The DGCA, which issued a show cause notice on 5 October, suspended Kingfisher's AOC on 20 October after the airline failed to prove that it will be able to resume operations safely.
Kingfisher could not be reached for comment.