Kingfisher to spread wings overseas

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Jul 22 | Updated: Jul 23 2008, 06:55am hrs
Though Kingfisher Airlines is all set to fly international locations in September, the recent show cause notice served by the corporate affairs ministry to the airline challenging the merger process (Kingfisher-Air Deccan) could come as a cropper to its international operations. The airline has already recruited the cabin crew staff and sales teams in the US, Europe and the Gulf region where it plans to spread its wings gradually.

Ruby Arya, assistant vice-president, human resources, at Kingfisher said, We have recruited the best of talent from various airlines in the US, Europe and Gulf regions. Our maiden flight on the Bangalore-London sector is scheduled on September 3. She added that many pilots from the US have joined Kingfisher since three US-based carriers have recently shut operations. Expat pilots' salary packages are nearly 30-40% higher than the Indian pilots, she said.

Arya further adds that altogether 135 pilots have been recruited and are undergoing training and certain examinations conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Though the airline is all set to fly international, according to section 108(A) of the Indian Companies Act, if any company acquires more than 25% stake in another company which results in more then 25% market share, then it's mandatory for the acquiring company to get government approval. The Kingfisher-Deccan combine command a market share of 27%. The corporate affairs ministry has sent a show cause notice to Kingfisher Airlines recently challenging the merger process, which could delay the international operations of the airline. Though the officials are hopeful of going international soon, analysts said that this tussle could delay Kingfishers plans to fly abroad.

However, an official at Kingfisher maintained that all is well and the airline does not see any hurdle in commencing their international operations in September. "Issues if any, related to our international expansion, will be sorted out before our maiden flight to London," the official maintained .

Meanwhile, analysts opine that Air India and Jet will have to fine tune their strategies to face competitions from the new entrant in the international skies. It could mean a price war, despite the fuel prices reigning at record levels," they said.