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India's DGCA conducts financial surveillance with safety focus on financially stressed airlines

6-Jan-2012 8:49 AM

Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation stated (05-Jan-2012) that, in the background of reported financial stress experienced by scheduled domestic airlines, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has carried out financial surveillance from a safety perspective of these airlines in Dec-2011. Several findings have been noted with respect to backlog of flight crew training, flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) monitoring, shortage of operational crew and delay in disbursement of salaries. The CEOs of all these airlines have been called for detailed examination of individual cases. The Ministry noted there were "apprehensions indicated about Kingfisher Airlines having a number of aircraft on ground for want of engines/spares due to which they were operating a truncated schedule". With regard to Air India Express, "concern was expressed about some safety issues that remain pending and shortage of training captains". Airlines have been asked to submit their recovery plan with firm timelines next week. The financial surveillance of Air India is proposed to be conducted by DGCA next week, the Ministry noted. [more - original PR]

Commenting on the situation, DGCA Director General E K Bharat Bhushan, as quoted by local media sources including NDTV, DHNS, Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Business Standard and IANS, stated: "We are getting the opportunity to find out what status of these finding are, what is the plan for rectifying these problem, we are asking airlines to remove these problems in time bound manner". He, however, ruled out the shut down of any carrier, stating: “There is no cause for panic. The situation has certainly not come to that pass (where airlines’ permits are withdrawn). There has been no threat to close down any airline.” He also noted the overall challenges in the domestic Indian aviation industry, stating:  “All airlines are going through a critical patch. It is a challenge to see that their financial constraints do not hamper safety. It is our duty to ensure that nobody takes the short-cut on the safety front. Please let there be no panic. The skies are safe.” [more - CAPA India Outlook]

Commenting on the situation, Kingfisher Airlines stated: "We would like to clarify that DGCA did not have any significant findings or concerns with regard to safety at Kingfisher Airlines and that we have adequate number of pilots and engineers to operate our scheduled services". Kingfisher Airlines CEO Sanjay Agarwal met with the DGCA on 05-Jan-2012 to discuss the situation with Mr Bhushan requesting the carrier "to come back on Monday with a full safety plan". The carrier is also required to provide a specific timeline for returning its grounded aircraft to service and for its recapitalisation efforts.