New Delhi: Nearly two years after it was grounded, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd has sought airport passes to inspect its planes, many of which have been mothballed at various airports around the country.
Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya met aviation minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju a few weeks back and requested him to allot passes so that he can check the planes.
“He is seeking some 20 passes for all over India. We have asked the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to look into it," said a government official who declined to be named.
Kingfisher declined comment.
There are less than 24 planes, including Mallya’s personal luxurious Airbus business jet with registration VT-VJM, parked in the Mumbai airport, said another person familiar with the situation.
It was critical to get the passes for the airline’s engineers to check the condition of the planes, especially after the monsoon season, the second person said.
Many of Kingfisher’s aircraft have been displaced from their original location due to strong storms this year but there was no one to enter the airport as the airline’s passes had expired in December.
“He is not asking for special passes, all he is saying is to allow for normal passes so engineers can check them or if lessors want to see the aircraft for any paperwork that can be done," the second person said, “It’s not an unjust demand."
The Airports Authority of India, which falls under the civil aviation ministry, is battling Kingfisher in the courts to recover dues of about ₹ 170 crore, said a third person aware of the situation who also declined to be named. “We would like our payments to be cleared first. It’s taxpayer money," the person said.
Kingfisher Airlines owes ₹ 7,500 crore to a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India. In February 2013, bankers said they had lost faith in the management’s ability to revive the company.
The firm had accumulated losses of ₹ 16,023.46 crore as on 31 March 2013 and its net worth was a negative ₹ 12,919.82 crore.