Kingfisher needs at least 10 billion rupees to restart: Ajit Singh

NEW DELHI Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:46pm IST

A passenger walks past a near-empty Kingfisher airlines ticketing office at Mumbai's domestic airport March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files

A passenger walks past a near-empty Kingfisher airlines ticketing office at Mumbai's domestic airport March 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Kingfisher Airlines(KING.NS) needs at least 10 billion rupees to restart its grounded operations and must also demonstrate an ability to sustain itself for at least 6 months, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, a senior government source said India was willing to support a rescue plan from Kingfisher if it could settle months of salary due to frustrated employees, sending the airline's shares up as much as 9 percent.

The comments came after Kingfisher Chief Executive Sanjay Aggarwal met officials at the ministry of civil aviation to discuss the plan, which was earlier rejected by the regulatory Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Singh said all stakeholders, including banks, airports and oil companies, will have to give no-objection certificates for the carrier to fly again.

Kingfisher has already received no-objection certificates from oil companies and some aircraft leasing companies to restart operations, a senior regulatory source said last week.

The airline, which is estimated to owe $2.5 billion in debt to banks, staff, vendors and others, has submitted a $119 million revival plan to the regulators.

An official at the DGCA said earlier this month that the plan would not be sufficient to rescue the airline.

Kingfisher shares, which hit a lifetime low of 7.05 rupees last August, closed up 7 percent at 14.45 rupees on the National Stock Exchange.

($1 = 53.8650 rupees)

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; editing by Jason Neely)

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