DGCA summons Kingfisher officials; govt say no bailout

The DGCA has gathered information from all centres across the country of the cancellation and major delays of Kingfisher services. Based on this information, the aviation regulator has decided to take action under rules

New Delhi: Kingfisher Airline's CEO and top officials were summoned Monday by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to explain the large-scale disruptions in the operations of the cash-strapped carrier even as Union government ruled out any bailout, reports PTI.

DGCA has asked senior officials of the airlines, including CEO Sanjay Aggarwal, to appear before it Tuesday to explain the cancellations.

More than 20 flights were cancelled Monday. About 80 flights of the carrier from six metro cities did not operate Sunday leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

The ailing carrier had till late last evening failed to file a report on the number of flights it had cancelled since Friday night to the DGCA.

Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh made it clear that government will not bailout the airline.

"No, government is not going to have any bailout," the minister told reporters, adding, "Government is not going to ask banks or private industry for that matter".

"Recently the government had seized its bank accounts also.

So our first concern is that flights which are ongoing, passenger safety should not be compromised and then let us see what reply they give. DGCA is inquiring into it," Mr Singh said.

He said Kingfisher is facing several financial problems.

"Day before yesterday, as they did not give salary to their employees for many months, people went on strike in Kolkata. Naturally, the flights got cancelled," he said.

DGCA's role, he said, was to see that there are no questions on passenger safety.

Kingfisher was holding talks with banks and they have given their business plan.

The government has made some changes recently including in respect of aviation fuel policy whereby airlines could directly import jet fuel, Mr Singh noted.

The minister said Kingfisher's business plan maybe viable in this respect but it was for the banks to decide how much money should be given.

DGCA chief EK Bharat Bhushan said, "We have received reports about large-scale cancellations. They are bound to inform us when they cut their schedule. But they have not done so."

The DGCA has gathered information from all centres across the country of the cancellation and major delays of Kingfisher services. Based on this information, the aviation regulator has decided to take action under rules.

Under Rule 140(A) of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, operators require to have prior approval of DGCA to curtail their flight schedules.

Mr Bhushan also said that messages have been sent by the DGCA to all other airlines to accommodate all passengers stranded due to these cancellations by Kingfisher.

"They have to do this without enhancing the fares," he said when asked about the severe hardships being faced by the passengers of cancelled Kingfisher flights.

The airline has admitted to curtailment in its flight schedule, saying such a situation would continue for the next four days.

"We will operate the full schedule on our booking system within the next four days," a Kingfisher spokesman had said.

The reasons for cancellation given out by the carrier included bird-hits suffered by its planes.

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.

It had also said that the I-T department had frozen its account due to non-clearance of tax dues.

"We confirm that our bank accounts were attached by the tax authorities. However, this has happened in the past not just to us but also to Air India. We have resolved issues before and will do so again," the Kingfisher spokesman had said.

The airline began cancelling its flights as it held talks with bankers to finalise a deal for funds. Kingfisher posted a Rs444 crore loss for the third quarter.

The airline has suffered a loss of Rs1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs7,057.08 crore, latest figures show.

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IBA for strict norms on education loans under management quota

“Banks have reported certain cases where the employment potential would not justify the fee structure for management seats from the point of repayment of the loan being sought,” IBA said

Worried over a rise in default on repayment of education loans, the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) asked lenders to impose stricter terms on loans given to students getting admission under the management quota.

"Any loan considered by banks for students getting admission under the management quota would be outside the model scheme. Banks may fix appropriate terms and conditions for such loans," IBA said in guidance note.

IBA expressed concerns that loans given to such students under the model education loan scheme could turn bad as their employment potential is relatively less.

"Banks have reported certain cases where the employment potential would not justify the fee structure for management seats from the point of repayment of the loan being sought," it said.

Non-performing assets in education loans are as high as 6%. To bring down NPA in education loan, the government is also considering the option of setting up a credit guarantee trust.

As per the model scheme, the banks are not allowed to look at the financial position of parents while evaluating loan to a meritorious student.

It is aimed at meeting all genuine study expenses of a student required to complete the study undertaken. The fee structure varies with type of college or institution within the same state for a given course.

Under management seats, the only requirement is passing the qualifying examination with certain minimum stipulated marks, it said, adding, it is logical to interpret that these seats do not qualify for being called meritorious.

Management seats or management quota refers to the seats in private education institutions for which the management has the discretion to give admission on factors other than merit.

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Public sector banks cut home loan rates

High inflation and the ensuing jacking-up of interest rates by the RBI, coupled with the uncertainties on the economic growth, are believed to have dampened the home loan market

In order to prop up the sagging home loan market, state-run lenders Central Bank of India and Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) have announced slashing of interest rates by up to 0.25%, and also decided to waive the processing fees.

Pune-headquartered BoM has decided to give housing loans under Rs25 lakh for a five-year tenor at the reduced base rate (below which it cannot lend) of 10.60%, it said.

Similarly, the city-headquartered Central Bank of India has cut home loan rates by up to 0.25%, it said. A home loan of up to 25 years and under Rs30 lakh will be available at 10.75%

Both the lenders have also announced waiver of processing charges. While Central Bank of India is offering a blanket waiver of processing fees for loans across amounts and tenors till 31 March 2012, BoM has waived it only for applications under Rs25 lakh.

BoM charged up to Rs12,500 for such loans in the past. High inflation and the ensuing jacking-up of interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), coupled with the uncertainties on the economic growth, are believed to have dampened the home loan market.

According to the RBI's Financial Stability Report released on 12 January 2012, the housing credit growth fell to 2.3% from 10.7% a year ago.

The country's largest lender State Bank of India is also contemplating a cut in interest rates in select home loan categories where demand is slow.

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