New Delhi: India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has deregistered three of the five aircraft in the fleet of Chennai-based Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd, a move that may lead to disruptions from Saturday.
This is the second time since last year that the regulator has deregistered aircraft at the behest of lessors owing to defaults in lease payment. GE Commercial Aviation Services (Gecas) last year confiscated three aircraft from Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, the country’s second largest private airline, for this reason.
Mint reported in October that Gecas had sought to de-register Paramount’s aircraft and that DGCA was considering the move.
Four-year-old Paramount, with a market share of around 2%, largely flies within southern India, using its leased fleet of Embraer 70-75 seater aircraft.
“Air traffic control (ATC) has already been informed of the registration numbers of the aircraft today,” said one of two top government officials who confirmed the move, adding that the planes will not be allowed to fly from Saturday. “We couldn’t have stopped them mid-flight today,” he said on Friday.
Both officials declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The second government official said the airline has told DGCA that the aircraft should not be deregistered as the carrier has won a case over lease payments in London against Gecas.
“We will not go on hearsay,” the official said. “When the original copy of any such order comes, then we can register them again with the relevant charges.”
A Paramount Airways official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that there was an order to deregister the aircraft but reiterated that the airline has won a case over the issue in London. Paramount will present its case to DGCA, this official said, adding that he expects the planes to keep flying.
Paramount’s aircraft carrying the registration numbers VT-PAD, VT-PAE and VT-PAF have been deregistered, according to the officials. The three aircraft were part of a lease agreement with Gecas dated 29 July 2005.
The airline is currently operating around 20 daily flights after two of its aircraft were grounded in the past three months due to engineering issues, said another airline official who asked not be named as he is not authorized to speak with the media.
Gecas’s spokesperson could not be reached for comments late on Friday by email or telephone. DGCA’s spokesperson was not available to comment.