Kingfisher Airlines: Vijay Mallya meets Ashwani Kumar

Vijay Mallya

As the squeeze tightened over grounded Kingfisher Airlines to pay up the dues of the government, lessors and service providers, its promoter Vijay Mallya today met Law Minister Ashwani Kumar apparently to discuss ways to deal with the situation.

Mallya also visited the Prime Minister's Office at South Block but it could not be ascertained who he met inside, though there were unconfirmed reports of him having met Pulok Chatterjee, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

What transpired at the meeting with the minister was not immediately known but sources said ways to deal with the airline's tight financial situation apparently came up for discussion.

Kingfisher, which has over Rs 15,000 crore in the form of debt, accumulated losses and various dues, has remained grounded since October 1 last year and its flying licence, suspended that month, expired on December 31.

The airline has dues towards payment of service tax, income tax, as also Provident Fund of employees and dues of the oil companies. Besides, it has to pay huge amounts to the lessors of its aircraft and service providers like the Airports Authority of India.

Spelling fresh trouble for the beleaguered carrier, the AAI has said it would not go by the "empty promises" of the airline management and insist on dues being cleared before it is allowed to fly again by aviation regulator DGCA.

The grounded airline owes Rs 290 crore to AAI towards landing and parking fees.

Kingfisher's revival plan, submitted to DGCA, has run into trouble with its engineers stating recently that they would file winding-up petition against the company for non-payment of salaries for the last eight months. A section of its former pilots has already taken the company to the court on the same issue.

Kingfisher last week reported a net loss of Rs 755.17 crore for the third quarter ending December 31. This was a sharp increase of 70 per cent from Rs 444.26 crore in the year-ago quarter.

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