A tussle is on between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and an aircraft leasing firm, which wants to take back three ATR aircraft (small turboprop planes) that were being operated by Kingfisher Airlines.

The leasing company has written to AAI seeking permission to take back the three aircraft parked in Chennai airport, as Kingfisher has not been able to meet its lease payments.

AAI has told the leasing company that Kingfisher owed it also over Rs 260 crore. Allowing the leasing company to take these aircraft would reduce AAI’s chances of recovering its dues from the cash-strapped private sector airline. At present, Kingfisher is being allowed to operate its flights from AAI airports only after it pays in advance for using the various facilities, such as parking and navigation charges, sources said.

"We are seeking a legal opinion on how to move forward," a senior AAI official told Business Line.

This is not the first time that Kingfisher aircraft are sought to be repossessed. In March, a law firm wrote to the authorities seeking deregistration and return of five ATR aircraft.

The decision to repossess aircraft has seen Kingfisher curtail the number of its daily flight drastically. It now operates about 100 flights daily, down from over 400 at the beginning of the year. It has completely withdrawn from the international market. Kingfisher, which had 63 aircraft earlier, now has 13 operational.


(This article was published on August 4, 2012)
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