Kingfisher Airlines, which used to operate out of domestic Terminal 1A of the
city airport was served an eviction notice by Mumbai International Airport Pvt
Ltd (MIAL) a week ago. The airline, which owes Rs 22 crore to the airport
operator, has been rented out offices and check-in desks at the said terminal.
The development casts doubts on Kingfisher's ability to resume operations as the
airport operator has already started the process of getting another airline to move
its operations to Terminal 1A.
While an MIAL source said that Kingfisher did not respond to their eviction notice,
an official from the airline, while confirming that they did get a notice from MIAL,
added that they had replied to the said notice. "We do not need all that space anyway
since we have scaled down our operations. So, we were in the process of voluntarily
handing over some of the rented space back to MIAL,'' the official added. Kingfisher
and the MIAL spokesperson refused to comment on the development.
Kingfisher, which operated close to 400 domestic and international flights daily
from various airports in India till last year, started scaling down its flight
operations from November 2011. "By the end of September 2012, the airline barely
had a total of 16 arrivals and departures a day out of Mumbai airport's Terminal 1A,''
said an airport source. "While plans are afoot to move Go Air from Terminal 1B to 1A,
we are also looking at the process involved in reclaiming much of the space rented
out to Kingfisher as the asset has not produced any income for quite a while,
because of the airline's inability to pay the rent,'' he added. "A few days
ago MIAL and Go Air officials came to have a look at the Kingfisher offices
located in Terminal 1A,'' said a Kingfisher source. "A meeting between
different agencies was also held a few days ago at the airport to apprise
them about the development and to discuss how the process of moving the
low-cost airline into Terminal 1A could be carried out,'' said the airport
The move holds significance as Mumbai and Bangalore were the two airports that bore the load of a majority of Kingfisher's flight operations. "It is not every day that airlines move operations in and out of terminals. So, MIAL's eviction notice to Kingfisher's and their subsequent proposal to Go Air to move into Terminal 1A speaks volumes about what the future envisages for the beleaguered carrier,'' said an aviation source.
After an employee unrest left its flight schedule crippled, Kingfisher had announced a partial lockout on October 1. This was followed by another blow when on October 20, the Indian aviation regulator, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation, suspended the carrier's licence to operate commercial passenger flights within and out of India. The recent development does not augur well for an airline that is supposed to be trying to resume its operations since then, added the source.