New Delhi, Feb 18: Passengers of Kingfisher Airlines suffered severe hardship today as the beleaguered carrier cancelled several flights from some key cities and completely shut down operations from Kolkata, including international flights, for about ten days.
Travel agents and airport sources said at least five flights from Delhi, including three to Pune, and another six flights from Mumbai were cancelled today. There was no flight operation from Kolkata which has seven daily flights, including one each to Dhaka and Bangkok.
The Airlines spokesperson was not immediately available for comments.
Kingfisher's services to Singapore were also affected as its website showed there were no flights available for the next ten days. Same was the case for Bangkok.
In Hyderabad, the cash-strapped carrier has three flights to Bangalore, Chennai and Vijayawada on scheduled cancellation.
Today's cancellations were in addition to those flights which were cancelled earlier after the airline had said it had grounded 20 of the 64 aircraft for reconfiguration and want of repairs late last year.
Maintaining that most of the stranded passengers at various airports were accommodated in other airlines, airport sources said over 30 Kingfisher aircraft were grounded.
The airline was operating only about 160-180 flights out of its already curtailed winter schedule of 240.
The sources said operations from Tier-II and Tier-III cities are likely to be affected until March-end. Trouble had erupted yesterday in Kolkata after the airline had allegedly told its staff that the station would be closed from Monday.
The staffers, particularly those on contract, wanted the airline to clear salary dues and later walked out en masse, leaving passengers in the lurch.
Barely two days after posting a Rs 444 crore loss for the third quarter, the airline began cancelling its flights as it held talks with bankers to finalise a deal for funds.
Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore, latest figures show.
Lenders of Kingfisher had last night failed to finalise a deal for providing additional funds to the company at a six-hour long meeting, after which Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya described it as a “long, good and comprehensive” meet.
The 18 bankers consortium—including SBI, Bank of Baroda and Corporation Bank—are likely to meet again to decide on additional funding to the debt-laden airline.
Iqbal Mulla, President of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), told PTI that “as the customer is important for us, we are asking them to be cautious when they come for booking on Kingfisher.”
However, he said the airline was “important for India and we extend our support to them in the turbulent times.”
A senior officer of a major travel portal, requesting anonymity, said there was no official intimation from the airline but on checking, its officials said they were suspending flights to Kolkata for a limited period.
Another travel company director said there had been a large number of cancellations in the recent past from Amritsar and Varanasi too. There were reports about flight disruptions from Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Patna and Srinagar as well.
A third travel company official said though the Kingfisher website was technically showing flight availability on its global distribution system, it seems flight tickets were not actually available for sale. This situation was prevalent on the booking system till March end, he added.