New Delhi/Mumbai: In what could give relief to debt-ridden airlines, India's aviation regulator on Thursday said it is taking steps to ensure safety norms and ruled out forcing any airline into closure on that count.

READ MORE: SBI declares Kingfisher as a NPA

“We have met all airlines in the past few weeks on the issue of financial stress. Kingfisher was called in today. There is no threat of closing any airline. All airlines are under stress,” Bharat Bhushan, director general, Civil Aviation told reporters. 
 
“We have been in touch with all the airlines like Spicejet, Jet Airways and Indigo and we are ensuring that safety norms are ensured. We have asked them to come back in a few days and tell us what measures they will be taking,” added Bhushan after meeting top executives of Kingfisher and Air India Express.
 
The DGCA said it had conducted safety audits in December to check if airlines under financial stress were cutting corners on adhering to various safety regulations.
 
“There were apprehensions indicated about Kingfisher Airlines having a number of aircraft on ground for want of engines/spares due to which they were operating a truncated schedule,” said a statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

“With regard to Air India Express, concern was expressed about some safety issues that remain pending and shortage of training captains,” it added.

The watchdog has asked Kingfisher to come back by Monday with details of the safety measures taken by the airline. It has also asked all airlines to submit their recovery plans with firm timelines next week.

“Financial surveillance of Air India is proposed to be conducted by DGCA next week,” said the Ministry.
 
The Vijay Mallya-promoted carrier meanwhile said the DGCA had found no concerns with regard to safety measures adopted by Kingfisher and that it had adequate number of pilots and engineers to operate its scheduled services.
 
“The DGCA has asked Kingfisher Airlines to provide a specific timeline for getting the grounded back in the air and for its recapitalization efforts,” said Kingfisher Chief Executive Sanjay Aggarwal.
 
Reiterating that safety of passengers is of paramount importance, Aggarwal said, “We reassure our valued guests that our scheduled flights will continue to operate with utmost safety in full compliance with regulatory requirements and stipulations in this regard.”
 
Kingfisher has seen concerns grow over its financial condition. It has shut down the budget carrier Kingfisher Red and cut down on its total number of flights to bring down operating costs. Its market share too had dipped considerably.
 
Reports earlier said the airline risked losing its licence to operate flights after an audit by the regulator revealed that the financial stress the carrier is facing could harm passenger safety.

(Agencies)