New Delhi: Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines on Wednesday announced further reduction in its flight schedule and said its promoter Vijay Mallya will on Thursday meet pilots agitating over delayed salary.

Last month the company had informed the authorities that it will be operating 140 flights on a daily basis.

However, Kingfisher said that 'despite the shortage of crew' it operated 101 flights on Tuesday and will operate 101 flights on Wednesday.

The airline also said it has returned wide body airbus A 330-200 aircraft to a lesser in the United Kingdom, adding that it plans to curtail international services.

"We would like to confirm that we are curtailing our wide body overseas operations that are bleeding heavily," the company said.

It, however, did not clarify which international sectors will be affected.

Maintaining that its liquidity crunch was primarily caused by tax authorities freezing its bank accounts, the airline said in a statement, "We are also working with our bankers to realize the urgent interim working capital as approved in the Bankers Consortium meeting held on February 17."

It added, "Whilst many of our pilots and engineers have expressed their disappointment, we not only sincerely apologise to them but also wish to advise that our Chairman will meet the pilot fraternity on Thursday, March 15 in Delhi."

The airline, which has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore, is struggling to stay afloat in the face of employees protests over delay in salaries.

"We are trying to protect the interests of our valuable employees. We share their pain caused by unpaid salaries and we are also trying to protect their jobs apart from paying salaries," Kingfisher said.

The airline also sought to assure customers that whatever the schedule it operates, the flights will depart as shown and on time.

Besides, the statement said, "We continue to work with the tax authorities to arrive at a solution to de-freeze our accounts as early as possible.

"The suspension of our ICH and BSP accounts with IATA resulted from the freeze of our IATA accounts by the tax authorities".

It also pointed out that the airline has suffered as people are not able to book seamlessly through IATA travel agents as before.

It added that the handicap has been partially mitigated by encouraging travel partners to establish booking arrangements on their individual platforms.

"Nevertheless, this greatly influences our ability to operate certain flights and it is, therefore, incorrect to assume that pilots are solely responsible," Kingfisher said.

On the FDI issue the company said, "The Government's final verdict on removing the restriction on investment by a foreign airline within the existing FDI limit of 49 per cent is awaited.

"We can confirm that there is interest from prospective on this basis."


(Agencies)