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Kingfisher Airlines slips to 5th place by market share

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Kingfisher Airlines fell to fifth place in domestic market share during November, from third in the previous month, after the cash-strapped carrier grounded planes and cut routes, government data showed.

Passengers disembark from a Kingfisher Airlines aircraft at New Delhi airport May 21, 2006. REUTERS/Kamal Kishore/Files

Kingfisher, which was once India’s second largest carrier by passengers, recorded a market share of 14 percent, ahead only of budget carrier Go Airlines, during the month.

Kingfisher’s market share fell primarily due to less capacity offered in November, the data showed.

The country’s largest airline, Jet Airways, including its unit JetLite, had the largest market share of 27.1 percent, followed by budget carrier IndiGo with 19.8 percent and Air India with a 17.4 percent, the data showed.

Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya said last month that Kingfisher stopped flying on heavily loss-making routes, and the carrier had also grounded some aircraft for fleet reconfiguration after the airline decided to discontinue its low-cost business.

Debt-laden Kingfisher is scouting for funds and is negotiating with its lenders for 7 billion rupees of working capital.

It has debt of about 65 billion rupees owed to a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India.

The airline aims to cut debt to 37 billion rupees through sale and lease-back of aircraft, sale of a property in Mumbai and conversion of rupee loans into foreign loans at a lower interest rate.

Domestic air traffic rose 17.6 percent to 55 million passengers in the first 11 months of 2011, data showed.

That growth has failed to translate into profits for India’s airline industry, where all the major carriers except IndiGo are loss-making, hit by high jet fuel costs and an inability to raise fares in a cut-throat market.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has forecast a record $2.5 billion to $3 billion loss for Indian airlines for the fiscal year ending March 2012, with state-run Air India alone likely to account for more than half of it.

At 9.53 a.m. (0423 GMT), shares of Kingfisher were 1.85 percent lower at 21.20 rupees in a weak Mumbai market that was down 0.74 percent. Its stock has fallen over 67 percent so far this year.

(US$1=52.79 rupees)

Reporting by Rajesh Kurup & Aniruddha Basu; Editing by Tony Munroe

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