The Zombie Airline?
If zombies are creatures that continue to exist beyond their lifespan, then India’s Kingfisher is certainly in the running for that designation.
If zombies are creatures that continue to exist beyond their lifespan, then India’s Kingfisher is certainly in the running for that designation. The airline, which owes debts totaling US$1.6 billion, has not paid its employees for months – and they finally have decided that this was a bad deal for them.
A refusal to fly sans wages led to a temporary lock-out that has now been extended for yet another week, until at least October 12. The operational fleet, assuming that some resolution is achieved, has dropped to 10 aircraft and even those would require extra inspections before resuming service.
Despite the overwhelming challenges that have to date as yet remained unresolved, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is only now making some noises about pulling the airline’s operating permit.
The regulatory process in India has been cited as one of the clear problems in its aviation development by imposing arcane rules on prospective operators. Given the bleak situation that now has engulfed Kingfisher, it appears that the process for decertification is equally cumbersome.
Prolonging the existence of a carrier that has monumental debt, unpaid employees, and a schedule that is a) non-existent at present and b) likely to be unpredictable in the future, is of no benefit to the consumer and simply adds ongoing uncertainty to an already troubled aviation industry.
The time has certainly come for a full overhaul of the Indian aviation market and operating environment, and that means a regulatory housecleaning and overhaul. The current regulators have served to make Indian carriers virtual non-players in the intercontinental marketplace as well as fostering a chaotic and essentially unprofitable domestic operating environment.
The time has come for the wooden stake to be used on both Kingfisher and the current DGCA, which has allowed the true hubs for long-haul access to India to be moved to Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi. Killing the zombie will make it possible for new and healthier growth in the sector.