Kingfisher squeezes ticket sales ahead of Dubai shutdown

Dubai route will cease on March 25 and all overseas operations from April 10
Kingfisher squeezes ticket sales ahead of Dubai shutdown
Kingfisher Airlines has stopped issuing tickets to UAE travel agents.
By Shane McGinley
Thu 22 Mar 2012 01:04 PM

Indebted Indian carrier
Kingfisher Airlines has stopped issuing tickets to UAE travel agents ahead of
plans to cease its flights to Dubai from Sunday.

“We have had access to Kingfisher
Airlines removed from our system around two weeks ago,” Basel Abu Alrub,
managing partner of Dubai-based travel agency Utravel confirmed to Arabian
Business on Thursday.

“This really doesn’t come as a
surprise to us as we have been hearing various news and reports about the
airline’s condition and therefore we have issued an internal circulation more
than a month ago advising our ticketing agents to stop issuing Kingfisher
Airline tickets,” he added.

The move comes as it was reported
the airline, which is battling US$1.3bn in debt, plans to stop flying to Dubai
from Sunday and cease all its international operations from April 10.

Routes to Hong Kong and Singapore
have already been canceled and flights to Dubai, Colombo, Kathmandu, Bangkok
will stop from March 25, according to a report by The Economic Times newspaper.

While the airline has not
confirmed the report and calls to its Dubai office were unanswered, its website
was not processing flights to Dubai after March 25 when attempts were made on
Thursday.

Adding fuel to its problems,
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters the government may
cancel the carrier’s licence if it does not maintain safety norms.

There had been speculation Abu
Dhabi’s Etihad Airways was in talks regarding a potential rescue package but
these appear to have been fruitless.

The airline’s chairman Vijay
Mallya, the Indian billionaire who controls 58 percent of Kingfisher, said in
February he had secured provisional approval from the Indian government for a
change in the law that would ease restrictions on foreign ownership of Indian
airlines.

While Mallya did not name the
airlines he was talking to, The Times newspaper claimed Abu Dhabi's Etihad
Airways has discussed the possibility of a tie-up to provide equity in exchange
for a minority stake in Kingfisher.

“We never comment on speculation
of this nature,” an Etihad spokesperson told Arabian Business in a statement.
“We talk regularly and frequently to many airlines and a range of other
businesses from all over the world about issues and opportunities.”

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