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Call-sign hitch may delay Kingfisher’s global dream

Nirbhay Kumar & Chanchal Pal Chauhan, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Yet another hitch is cropping up in the way of Kingfisher’s international dreams. While UB Group chief Vijay Mallya wants to fly on the global routes using Kingfisher’s call sign, civil aviation ministry officials feel that international operations of the airline can use only the Air Deccan call sign.

Mr Mallya took over Air Deccan last year and the low-cost carrier is being merged with Kingfisher. While Deccan is completing five years of service in the domestic market making it eligible to fly overseas, Kingfisher does not fulfil the eligibility criteria now.

“We had allowed Kingfisher to operate two call signs in the domestic market, anticipating that the two would merge immediately and have a common ticketing and marketing platform. But we can’t allow them to fly international on Kingfisher’s call sign as the operating permit is in the name of Deccan Aviation,” a ministry official said. He, however, said that the ministry had no objection in Deccan flying on international routes under the Kingfisher brand.

UB Group recently sought government permission to operate two brands and hence two call signs given by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA). While no official comment was available from Kingfisher, an UB Group official said: “We would have a common reservation platform and marketing set-up from August 29.”

The current hitch may delay Mr Mallya’s plan to launch Kingfisher on Bangalore-London sector from September 3. Any procedural delay is expected to have an impact on company as the airline has already started the booking for the proposed foreign sector. According to the UB Group spokesperson, booking for the airline’s first international sector has been overwhelming.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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