With cash-starved Kingfisher Airlines defaulting on lease rentals of around Rs 1,000 crore, the lessors have taken back 34 aircraft, sources said here on Tuesday even as the company maintained that it has returned the aircraft voluntarily.

Besides, another 15 aircraft of the company are also aground due to want of spares, and the airline is now left with only 15 planes to carry out its operations, they said.

“Lessors have taken back as many as 34 aircraft from Kingfisher between March and June, owing to non-payment of lease rentals, which stands at around Rs 1,000 crore,” sources told PTI here.

The airline, however, said it has returned these aircraft voluntarily and that no aircraft was taken back by lessors by “force“.

“There have been no forced returns of the aircraft to the lessors. Whenever we have returned planes, we have voluntarily done so,” a Kingfisher spokesperson said in a text message.

It has also grounded another 15 planes as they require spares but due to paucity of funds it has not been able to replace them, sources said.

“The airline currently has just 15 aircraft worth flying and a majority of them are ATRs,” they said.

According to the sources, the 15 aircraft in service include eight ATRs, one A319, four A320s and two A321s.

The airline today operates only around 100 odd flights with these aircraft, and has withdrawn from international operations.

(This article was published on June 26, 2012)
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