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Kingfisher crisis: what is the way forward?


Raksha Shetty,CNN-IBN
Feb 21, 2012 at 09:17am IST

Mumbai: As Kingfisher hits rough weather, it isn't getting any easier for other members of the exclusive club in the Indian skies. The country's six domestic passenger airlines are all fighting for survival and a short-staffed Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) fears financial stress among them could compromise passenger safety.

The financial audit report of the regulatory body that concluded just last month says all airlines were slammed for a shortage of training personnel like examiners and instructors.

IndiGo, a profitable airline, was pulled up for suppressing and under-reporting accidents, and for having over-worked pilots.

The airlines were also pulled up for having an overall backlog in cabin crew, pilots and training and for having quality control issues, all issues that potentially compromise safety.

Airlines, for their part, are blaming the malaise in the industry on high fuel costs, that account for almost half their operating costs. And competitive low pricing that drive up passenger load, but decrease revenue.

Aviation expert Jitendra Bhargava said, "Airlines should be allowed to increase fares on the modest margin. The DGCA's job is to take strong action against erring airlines."

The government is walking the extra mile for state-owned carrier Air India's recapitalization plans but is more wary of bailing out private airlines.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "No question of bailing out Kingfisher."

In a move to infuse much-needed funds into the sector, the government is set allow foreign airlines to invest in Indian airlines, and also to allow airlines to import jet fuel.

Many say Kingfisher's problems are not Kingfisher's alone. From time to time, passengers at airport like this across the country are finding themselves at the receiving end of airlines battling financial viability, running tightly-wound ships where something's gotta give and the only hope is that that something is not lives at stake.

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