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Kingfisher to decide on lifting partial lockout Thursday

by fwire  Oct 2, 2012 21:15 IST

#India   #markets   #NewsTracker  

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KING.NS) said it would submit a revival plan to regulators and clear pending salary dues in the coming days, after labour unrest prompted the carrier to declare a partial lockout and cancel all flights through Thursday.

The airline cancelled the flights when some employees failed to report to work following months of unpaid salaries, dealing a fresh blow to the debt-laden airline. The carrier, which has never made a profit, had already grounded most of its fleet.

Kingfisher is in talks with employees and will make a call on lifting the partial lockout on Thursday, Chief Executive Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with the country's aviation regulator.

The regulator said Kingfisher would need its approval to restart operations.

Kingfisher, which is controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya and was once India's No.2 carrier by domestic market share, has struggled under its $1.4 billion debt load. Banks have refused to lend it more unless it can infuse fresh equity.

Last month, India allowed foreign airlines to buy stakes of up to 49 percent in local carriers, a long-awaited policy move lobbied for by Kingfisher and seen as providing a lifeline to the country's debt-laden operators.

Kingfisher was in talks with a couple of airlines for investment and hoped talks would conclude in three months, the aviation regulator said on Tuesday.

The regulator had warned on Monday that it would not allow Kingfisher to fly if safety rules were not followed, and that it was examining the situation at Kingfisher.

Under Indian rules, an airline needs to operate at least five planes in order to maintain its licence.

Shares in Kingfisher closed down 4.95 percent, their maximum daily limit, at 15.35 rupees on Monday. Markets are closed on Tuesday for a local holiday.

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; Writing by Christopher Gallagher; Editing by Ryan Woo)