The Madurai-based textile company Paramount Group established Paramount airways in 2005 with Chennai as its hub. Paramount is the first airline to launch new generation Embraer 170/190 family series aircraft, with a focus on business travellers.
The airline is currently flying with just one aircraft. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has questioned the validity of its national airline license, since a national permit requires an operational fleet comprising a minimum of five aircraft. A license can be suspended if eligibility criteria are not met.
In the timeline below we outline Paramount’s journey, since its take off on five Embraer jets, about 5 years ago, till its landing, amid rough weather, on just one.
March 30 2010, Tuesday: Brazilian firm wants plane leased to Paramount grounded
Ø ECC Leasing Co. Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer EBA, asks aviation regulator DGCA to de-register two planes it had leased to Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd, citing non-payment of dues.
Ø Supreme Court dismisses the airline’s petition asking for a stay on the de-registration of the GECAS aircraft.
March 19 2010, Friday: Paramount flights disrupted as regulator grounds planes
Ø DGCA grounds three of Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd’s five aircraft, after the Delhi high court refuses to grant a stay in favour of the Coimbatore-based regional carrier.
Ø In a 25 September letter to Paramount and DGCA, GECAS says that Paramount “has failed to remedy the events of default referred in the notice and as at the date of this notice, there still remains $215,540.18” in dues.
March 15 2010, Monday: HC dismisses Paramount petition on its plane seizure
Ø The Delhi high court dismisses a petition of Paramount Airways Ltd in which the regional carrier seeks a stay on the government confiscating three of its aircraft after deregistering them.
Ø DGCA deregisters the planes after GECAS complains that Paramount had defaulted on payments for the aircraft.
March 11 2010, Thursday: DGCA puts Paramount on a safety-watch
Ø In the first such move of its kind against an airline, the DGCA says it will keep a close watch on regional carrier Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd to check on safety issues after the carrier failed to rectify flaws brought to its notice over the past few months.
Ø India’s aviation regulator says that a three-member team of senior safety officials will monitor the company on a weekly basis, “identify risk areas in Paramount Airways”, and report to DGCA.
December 4 2009, Friday: DGCA deregisters 3 Paramount aircraft
Ø Three out of five aircraft de-registered.
Ø This marks the second time that the regulator has deregistered aircraft. (GECAS confiscated 3 Kingfisher aircraft in 2008)
November 15 2009, Sunday: Paramount may buy 8 turboprop planes for up to $250m
Ø The airline announces plans to sign an agreement to buy at least eight turboprop planes at an estimated cost of $230-250 million (around Rs1,070-1,163 crore).
October 13 2009, Tuesday: Paramount Airways flies into rough weather
Ø GECAS asks India’s aviation regulator to de-register three Embraer jets leased to Chennai-based Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd, after the airline defaults on payments for the aircraft.
October 8 2009, Thursday: JetLite, MDLR, Paramount get safety rap
Ø The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issues ‘show cause’ notices to JetLite, Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd and MDLR Airlines asking them to explain the lack of proper safety infrastructure and procedures during operations.
Ø Paramount Airways is found wanting in around 69 areas of aircraft maintenance, while lacking a proper permanent investigation board for airline incidents and accidents.
Ø It is also discovered that Paramount does not have a permanent investigation board, to inquire into accidents and incidents, report on their causes and identify methods to prevent recurrence.
June 19 2009, Friday: Paramount airways to buy 10 A321 passenger jets
Ø Paramount signs an agreement at the Paris Air Show with European airplane maker Airbus SAS to buy ten A321 passenger jets and an option to buy 10 more.
Ø Each Airbus A321 carries a list price of $90.3 million (Rs434.34 crore).
Ø Paramount says it will use the Airbus A321 for its overseas routes instead of the wide-bodied aircraft it had considered earlier.
June 15 2009, Monday: Paramount best carrier with 89% on-schedule record
Ø Paramount Airways is deemed the most punctual carrier in May with an 89% on-schedule record, followed by low-fare IndiGo at 85.7% and Jet Airways (India) Ltd at 84.4%, according to the first such data released by DGCA.
April 27 2009, Monday: Paramount Airways expands map; enters Kolkata, NE
Ø Paramount Airways, begins operations by introducing a daily flight between Chennai and the Northeast via Kolkata, catering to business travelers and those from south India travelling for healthcare.
March 13 2008, Thursday: “No merger with any other airline: Paramount
Ø Paramount’s Managing Director M Thiagarajan says that they would not merge with any other airline since the company was making profits and looking for acquisitions.
Ø Thiagarajan announces that Paramount has been awarded the ‘The Century International Quality Era Award’ at an international quality convention in Geneva.
The Indian aviation industry has been hit hard by the global recession. In fact it has been the second biggest loser outside the US. Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a press conference in New Delhi, in September 2008, that ”India will post the largest losses outside the US - potentially around $1.5 billion this year”.