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Licences of financially-stressed airlines won't be renewed: DGCA

DGCA sprung into action after massive flight cancellations by the Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines caused widespread chaos and disruption.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 12, 2011, 08.40 AM IST
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Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sprung into action after massive flight cancellations by the Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines caused widespread chaos and disruption.

In an exclusive interview to ET's Anindya Upadhyay, DGCA chief E K Bharat Bhushan talks about the various check and balances he is undertaking in order to find out the impact of the financial downturn on the airline's safety measures.

The aviation industry is currently cash starved, but why have you shot off show-cause notices to almost half the scheduled Indian airlines (Kingfisher Airlines, IndiGo and SpiceJet) in the past week over flight cancellation?

As the DGCA, it is my job to ensure that passengers' discomfort is minimised. Our sources as well as news reports have claimed that thousands of passengers were stranded due to random cancellations. While Kingfisher Airlines should have informed us in advance before cancelling flights, I really want to know the reason from SpiceJet and IndiGo why they have cancelled flights on routes they themselves have sought for in the winter schedule. They have not operated 30 flights, each, on a few routes and I need to know why.

What kind of penalties can be levied on these erring airlines if you don't find the responses satisfactory?

I am not doing this to impose penalties. There is no such penalty on my mind. All I want is the reasons for cancelling flights and not sticking to schedules without the knowledge of the DGCA.

Why do you think they are not operating the flights?

We are starting the financial surveillance of airlines from today and I have formed three teams to do the same. Every airline will be subject to this exercise, which will be over by November 25. The aim of this exercise is to assess the economic viability and safety. The basic idea is to ensure that airlines don't cut corners on safety in the face of cash crunch.

Besides, financially-strained carriers will not be allowed to expand fleet till they meet the norms for the current fleet. Licences of those airlines, which have financially deteriorated so much that it has become unviable for them to fly passengers, will not be renewed until they become capable enough to do so.

Have any of the airlines responded to the show-cause notice that you have issued?

Yes, Kingfisher has. They have said they are reconfiguring 30 of their aircraft because of which, they have cancelled flights, adding that at any point of time, more than three aircraft will not be out of circulation. This is what I can tell you now.

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