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Aircraft maker cancels Kingfisher's 38-plane order

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Plane manufacturer has cancelled Kingfisher Airlines's order for 38 ATR-72 turboprop planes as the carrier failed to make certain pre-delivery payments. Kingfisher, which is facing an acute cash crunch and seeking urgent cash infusion, has a fleet of 64 planes including 26 ATR planes. However nearly 20 of them have been grounded for want of spares.

According to ATR spokesperson David Vargas an order of 65 planes was placed in 2005-06. Air Deccan ( prior to take over)  had ordered 35 planes and the rest were ordered following by Kingfisher. Twenty seven planes have been delivered.

"We didn’t think the situation of Kingfisher today was such that in a short time they’d be in a position to take additional planes,” ATR Chief Executive Officer Filippo Bagnato said in Paris on Wednesday, he said.  “There were issues with the continuity of pre-delivery payments,'' he added. Kingfisher spokesperson refused comment on the issue.

ATR has been negotiating with Kingfisher for about two years over plane deliveries, according to the plane maker, a joint venture of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. and Finmeccanica SpA (FNC) of Italy.

The carrier also has significant orders outstanding with Airbus, the world’s largest commercial plane maker, itself a unit of EADS. As of December 31 Kingfisher had orders pending for five A380 superjumbos, five A350 long-range wide bodies and 15 A330s, according to backlog numbers on its website. At list prices the aircraft would be worth about $6 billion (about Rs 30,000 crore).

In an investor presentation few months ago Kingfisher had said it would be doubling its fleet to 137 planes by 2015-16 by inducting airbus A320s, A330s and ATR planes. In 2011-12 it was expected to add five airbus A320s but now that plan has been shelved. In fact the airline is considering downsizing fleet by a third in the next few months. It cancelled over 50 flights in its winter schedule and is expected to trim operations further.

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