NEW DELHI, India – Kingfisher Airlines, in a fresh instance of violation of regulations, has opened ticket bookings on its website from October 13, even as Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) awaits the airline’s response to a show-cause notice, asking why its licence should not be cancelled given its irregularities.
Even makemytrip.com, one of the largest travel portals in India, has started selling Kingfisher tickets from the same date.
The cash-strapped carrier, which has not paid salaries to its employees for the past seven months, grounded operations from October 1 due to workers unrest and decided to take bookings from October 5, which was deferred to October 8 and then to October 12.
However, while civil aviation minister Ajit Singh had made it clear that the airline cannot take off without convincing the government of a sustainable recovery plan, which should include payment of salary dues, the airline has all of a sudden opened bookings without intimation to aviation watchdog DGCA.
“A few more people have brought this to my notice. We will write to them to stop this,” DGCA head Arun Mishra told ET.
While other big travel portals said they haven’t got any cue from Kingfisher AirlinesBSE -4.76 % to start selling, neither do most of them want to sell the airlines’ tickets as they want to avoid problems like refunds in case of sudden cancellations, makemytrip.com said they have no control over this.
“We have no control over this. All I can say is that we are offering full refund on Kingfisher tickets for travel for the whole month of October. We want to ensure our customers don’t lose money,” travel portal COO Keyur Joshi said.
Meanwhile, an executive from another travel portal said that the airline told them that the response to the DGCA’s show-cause notice is supposed to be different from future plans, which involves getting the workforce and funds together.
A day after one of Kingfisher Airlines employees’ wife committed suicide, citing financial stress as her husband was not paid for months; the DGCA shot a show-cause notice to the Vijay Mallya-owned airline asking it to explain why its licence should not be cancelled.
According to the notice, abrupt cancellation of flights over past 10 months causing inconvenience to passengers has been “tantamount to non-compliance…which is punishable under Schedule VI of the said rules”.
If the airline fails to reply to this show-cause by October 20, “it will be presumed that you have nothing to say in your defence and suitable action, as deemed fit, shall be taken against your organisation ex parte,” the notice reads. Employees of the airline have confirmed that so far no communication about payment of salary arrears has been made to them. Kingfisher Airlines did not send any response to ET’s questions on reopening of bookings.