Last independent Kingfisher director quits

MUMBAI Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:59pm IST

A Kingfisher Airlines staff member walks through their empty check in area at Bengaluru International Airport in Bangalore, March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

A Kingfisher Airlines staff member walks through their empty check in area at Bengaluru International Airport in Bangalore, March 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Kingfisher Airlines (KING.NS) was hit with a regulatory challenge after the last of its independent directors quit amid growing concerns about the struggling carrier's survival.

Anil Kumar Ganguly resigned from the company's board of directors due to ill health over the past few months that prevented him attending normal activities, Kingfisher Airlines said on Monday.

The latest resignation comes less than a week after another member, Vijay Amritraj, quit the board of Kingfisher. The company had cited an increase in Amritraj's travel schedule and other commitments for the resignation.

Ganguly's resignation had left Kingfisher without an independent director on its board, which, analysts said, violated the market regulatory norms for listed companies and it would have to bring some independent members on the board at the earliest to ensure its operations are not impacted.

The company has been left with three board members - its chairman Vijay Mallya, vice-chairman Subhash Gupte and the carrier's parent chief financial officer Ravi Nedungadi, according to the company website.

Kingfisher, which has a debt of $1.3 billion, is facing near collapse as banks have so far refused to lend it more for day-to-day operation and massive cutback in flights have reduced revenues, leaving the carrier with little cash to pay its employees, airports and tax authorities.

The carrier, controlled by flamboyant liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has almost halved its daily flights from the scheduled 200 after some pilots refused to report for work and a suspension by global industry body IATA from its settlement system restricted bookings through overseas agents.

Kingfisher will have a full recovery plan in place in two to three days that will address its financial issues and restore dozens of flights, Mallya said on Thursday.

Mallya is expected to meet India's aviation regulator on Tuesday to submit a revised schedule and to talk about a turnaround plan for the airline, local media reported on Monday.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Anurag Kotoky; editing by James Jukwey)

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