MUMBAI, India - Kingfisher Airlines has cut down its operation by 50% at Mumbai airport this summer.
According to the new schedule, the airline will be operating 24 flights out of Mumbai, instead of 50 flights in the summer schedule.
Across India, the airline will operate 120 daily flights instead of over 300 flights it operated last year. Kingfisher will use 20 aircraft out of its fleet of 64, to operate the summer schedule. On Wednesday, the airline issued a statement stating that it has begun the 2012 summer schedule operations. However, the current schedule is part of a "holding plan" till re-capitalization and return to full utilization of the aircraft fleet. The airline said that it would try to maintain the schedule.
The statement comes a day after Kingfisher stopped operations from Mumbai and Delhi to Lucknow and Patna. "The move was expected as the airline has been actively cutting down on operations to tier II cities. It had already stopped operating direct flights to many other popular routes like Mumbai-Jaipur, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Trivandrum etc," officials said. "This is all part of an operational trim-down that the airline is planning.
Since passenger loads have decreased tremendously, the airline is finding it unfeasible to operate on these sectors. Even flights between metros are half-empty," a senior airport official said.
"In Mumbai, only flyers who had booked 3 to 4 months in advance or through web portal schemes are the only ones flying on Kingfisher now. The airline will have to stick to its schedule if it has to win passenger confidence back," he added. At Mumbai airport, the airline curtailed its operations massively, operating even to the main metros in a diminished capacity.
Summer holidays is a time when most airlines capitalize on the passenger rush. "Kingfisher has only ruined its chances further by reducing operations drastically from Mumbai," an Mumbai airport official said.
The airline's counter at Mumbai airport wore a deserted look, with only few passengers still coming to cancel their flight tickets. Many cancelled through call centers as they were not sure if their flight would eventually take off. Delhi-based photographer, Anshika Varma, who is in Mumbai for a trip, cancelled her return ticket on Kingfisher. "Fortunately, I got a full refund for it and could easily book a Spice jet ticket instead," Varma said. Varma had booked through a blind booking scheme on a travel portal.
In the statement Kingfisher said that it has suspended operations at some stations (referring to Lucknow and Patna)but has posted some staffers to help passengers still booked on the airline to refund or re-book.
"Since we could resume operations after getting recapitalized, most employees at these stations have been asked to stay home while remaining on the company's rolls," the airline's statement said. The company added that it is waiting for various decisions on FDI policy and working capital funding. "All of these will have a major impact on the staffing decisions we will have to make," the statement said.