Kingfisher Airlines Loss Widens as Fleet Remains Grounded

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., controlled by liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, posted a wider fourth-quarter loss as the carrier has grounded its fleet since October because of a lack of cash.

The net loss in the three months ended March was 21.4 billion rupees ($379 million), compared with 11.5 billion rupees a year earlier, the carrier said in an e-mailed statement today. Kingfisher had no sales in the period.

India’s aviation regulator is reviewing a revival plan Kingfisher submitted in April after rejecting a previous proposal saying the funding pledged wasn’t adequate. Jet Airways (India) Ltd. and SpiceJet Ltd. also posted wider than expected losses in the quarter as carriers struggle with fuel costs and a price war.

“You have to pay for aircraft lease, interest obligations and employee salaries,” said Mark D. Martin, chief executive officer of Dubai-based Martin Consulting LLC that advises airlines. “The expenses may be just there for the record.”

The carrier reported an employee expense of 738 million rupees in the fourth quarter. It also had aircraft lease cost of 1.35 billion rupees and other operating expense of 2.42 billion rupees, according to the statement.

Kingfisher fell 3.2 percent to 6.10 rupees as of 12:36 p.m. in Mumbai trading. The stock has dropped 59 percent this year, after declining 29 percent in 2012.

Prakash Mirpuri, a spokesman for Kingfisher Air, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comments on the company’s expenses during the quarter.

A380 Superjumbos

Kingfisher, the only Indian carrier to order Airbus SAS A380 superjumbos, has defaulted on payments to creditors, fuel suppliers and airports. The carrier, which was No. 2 in India by market share in 2011, had a net debt of 86.4 billion rupees as of March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The carrier’s present revival plan is “more practical” and backed by shareholders of parent UB Group, an Indian government official said in April. Kingfisher proposed to resume services with seven aircraft, Sanjay Aggarwal, the carrier’s chief executive officer, said in April.

The airline grounded its fleet in October after employees walked out, protesting delays in salary payments. The aviation regulator later suspended the airline’s permit because of the service disruptions. The carrier’s permit lapsed Dec. 31.

Kingfisher’s lessors sought to repossess aircraft after payment defaults and the nation’s state-owned Airports Authority of India sued the airline because it failed to pay 3 billion rupees of airport fees.

Kingfisher has been seeking funds from investors for more than two years. Jet Airways last month agreed to sell a 24 percent stake to Etihad Airways PJSC, becoming the first Indian carrier to win investment from an overseas airline after India eased aviation rules in September.

Indian airlines lost about $1.65 billion in the year ended March 31 as they struggled with high fuel costs and a weaker rupee, according to CAPA Centre for Aviation, a Sydney-based consultant. The combined debt at Indian carriers may have reached $14.5 billion at the end of March, according to CAPA.

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