Kingfisher being bumped off from many travel portals
After IATA blackballed Kingfisher, passengers and cargo shippers can no longer book through the system.
New Delhi: Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines has become a pariah in the ticket booking business.
"People can see Kingfisher flights on the system but cannot book," said an official from a leading travel portal, indicating the precarious position the airline is in. Another travel agent said the airline's foreign bookings have been impacted the most, specially those on its London and Bangkok flights.
Booking woes began for Kingfisher Airlines on Friday after it was suspended for non-payment of dues from two IATA (International Air Transport Association) platforms. This suspension has begun impacting its passenger and cargo bookings through agents.
On its part, the airline says it has made alternative arrangements for bookings via select leading travel agents and their network of partners. Also, tickets can be bought either on the airline's website or the airline's own ticketing offices.
"This situation has arisen as a consequence of our bank accounts having been frozen by the tax authorities. We are making all possible efforts to remedy this temporary situation," a Kingfisher statement said.
IATA, which had suspended Kingfisher from its clearing house on Wednesday, further suspended the airline from participating in the global airline body's billing and settlement plan (BSP) and cargo accounts settlement system (CASS).
"The suspension was because the airline did not provide IATA with a cash deposit, required to continue its participation in the BSP and the CASS. The required cash deposit was intended to ensure the airline is able to meet its financial obligations in the BSP and the CASS," an IATA spokesperson said in a statement from Singapore.
The BSP and CASS programmes facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures between airlines and travel and cargo agents, both domestic and international.
The IATA spokesperson said suspension from BSP and CASS means the airline would not be able to use these platforms to settle its sales and bookings with IATA-recognised travel and cargo agents. "The airline is still free to sell and settle directly with travel agents and freight forwarders," he said, adding that Kingfisher's participation in BSP and CASS would be reinstated "after the airline fulfills the cash deposit requirement."
Ankur Bhatia of Amadeus said that since the IATA billing cycle is 15 days, Kingfisher has that much time to settle dues. And while some travel agents said that domestic bookings of the airline remain largely unaffected, another large travel agency said that agents were now wary of accepting Kingfisher bookings because there was no IATA bank guarantee to fall back on and getting payments from the airline may become difficult.
Two days ago, IATA had suspended the beleaguered carrier on the same grounds from the IATA Clearing House (ICH) through which airlines and related firms settle accounts for services provided by them to other such companies.
After a three-month wait, some Kingfisher pilots finally received their December salaries today.
Kingfisher Airline employees, who have not received their May salary despite an assurance from the airline management, are likely to chalk out an action plan next week, if they do not receive their dues by 17 November.
The airline, which is grounded since 1 October after its pilots and engineers went on strike demanding payment of dues, has temporarily lost its flying license.