India to give away Kingfisher slots, flying rights to others

NEW DELHI Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:00pm IST

Kingfisher Airlines customers wait in a check-in queue at Mumbai's domestic airport March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files

Kingfisher Airlines customers wait in a check-in queue at Mumbai's domestic airport March 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government said it will give away Kingfisher Airlines'(KING.NS) slots and foreign flying rights to other operators in the latest blow to the grounded carrier.

Kingfisher, controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has been halted due to a cash crunch, and lenders are trying to recover $1.4 billion of loans in default.

Kingfisher, which saw its flying license expire at the end of last year, has two years from then to apply for a renewal. But with lenders, airports, and banks looking to recover their dues, and with its slots going to rivals, a comeback could prove extremely difficult for the airline, once India's no.2 carrier.

The civil aviation ministry said in a statement it will make the slots and flying permits available to other airlines.

Kingfisher, whose planes have been idle since October, flew to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand , United Kingdom, UAE among eight others.

Indian carriers will now have an additional 25,000 seats available each week to fly to these countries, the statement said.

Kingfisher posted a 7.55-billion-rupee loss in the three months to December 31 as its planes sat idle, and regulators rebuffed its revival plans.

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky and C.K Nayak; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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