Kingfisher Airlines is suspending all operations at Kolkata and may shut its Hyderabad operations, too, after slipping further into the red, say sources.
Barely a day after posting a Rs 444 crore loss for the third quarter, the airline intimated its employees it was temporarily closing operations in Kolkata from Monday. A source said the upset staffers demanded their salary dues; on being told this could not be paid now, they walked out, leaving check-in counters unattended.
“There was chaos at the airport. Travel agents who had booked passengers on domestic flights and to Bangkok are upset and the airline has told them they will resume in 20 days,” said the source.
The airline has apparently sounded its employees that it may suspend operations from Hyderabad, too. The Kingfisher spokesperson did not respond to emails and text messages seeking comments.
From Kolkata, Kingfisher flies to New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Aizawl, Bagdogra (Siliguri), Chandigarh, Goa, Hyderabad and Pune. On international routes, it flies to Dhaka and Bangkok. Sabina Chopra, co-founder of online portal Yatra.com, said: “There has been no official intimation from the airline but when we checked, they said they’re suspending flights to Kolkata for a limited period. Bookings to Kolkata have been stopped. It is an important station for the airline, as there is business traffic to Delhi. The airline has not informed us yet about suspension of flights to any other station.”
The UB Group-run airline, struggling to raise funds, curtailed its schedule in November. It had then said it was withdrawing 50 daily flights but cancellations are rising, with around 20 of the 64 planes grounded. The same month it stopped flights to several towns such as Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Agra, Nanded and Mysore, among others. It has almost halved the number of flights in Mumbai and Hyderabad in two months and, on several occasions in the past year, airports have warned the airline to clear pending dues.
“There has been a lot of cancellation from Kingfisher in Kolkata, Amritsar and Varanasi airports recently. In Kolkata, there were two daily flights to Delhi, of which one is not operational for the last one month. There are many cancellations in Amritsar and Varanasi, too. Many agents have been told to shift passengers to other carriers,” said Sanjeev Mehra, director, Aryan Leisure & Holidays.