Kingfisher Airlines losses double

Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines on Saturday said quarterly losses more than doubled from a year earlier, fuelling fresh doubts about the future of the private Indian carrier.

Kingfisher's net loss widened to 6.60 billion rupees ($120 million) in the financial quarter to June from a loss of 2.63 billion rupees in the same period last year, as revenues slumped due to reduced operations.

"The company has suffered substantial losses and its net worth has been eroded," the airline said in its earnings statement.

But Kingfisher -- which has never posted a profit since its launch in 2005 -- said it still hoped to "get recapitalised" and added it was "in discussion with several strategic and financial investors to bring in fresh capital".

The company, which is carrying a $1.4 billion debt load, did not identify the potential investors.

The airline, controlled by Indian liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, blamed the latest loss on "high fuel costs, high interest rates, depreciation of the rupee and expenses due to the return of aircraft to lessors".

Revenues fell by a fifth to 3.01 billion rupees for the April to June period.

The airline owes millions of dollars in taxes as well as money to suppliers, lenders, partners and staff.

The company needs an immediate infusion of at least $500 million to keep flying, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a regional consultancy.

Kingfisher's shares have steadily lost ground and hit a record low of 7.27 rupees on Friday ahead of its earnings results as investors bailed out fearing a large loss.

The carrier has scaled down its operations dramatically in recent months -- halting international operations completely -- in a bid to curb costs and now has the smallest market share among Indian airlines at just 4.2 percent.

The airline was forced to cancel over 30 flights on Wednesday after pilots and engineers refused to show up for work because of unpaid wages.

Kingfisher's woes have boosted the fortunes of its rivals such as Jet Airways and low-cost carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo, which have raised ticket fares and attracted new passengers.

Last week, Jet and SpiceJet both reported unexpected quarterly profits.

Mallya hopes the government may soon clear a stalled proposal to allow foreign carriers to invest in domestic airlines, seen as a potential lifeline for airlines such as Kingfisher, named after the tycoon's flagship beer label.

There had earlier been some expressions of interest, but no foreign carrier has recently said it might want to put money in the carrier.

"The time has come for the airline to stop all operations, completely restructure the company and management, while paying back its dues," said Sharan Lillaney, analyst at Mumbai's Angel Broking, earlier in the week.

"The airline has no money and is going down," Lillaney said.

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