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Kingfisher Airlines Q3 loss widens, costs mount

Mumbai (Reuters): Kingfisher Airlines reported a 75 percent wider net loss in the quarter to end-December from a year earlier, as the ailing carrier continued to feel the pinch of high fuel costs, a weaker rupee and fierce competition.

Debt-laden Kingfisher, controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, is around a quarter-owned by banks and its top lender State Bank of India has refused to lend more without a fresh injection of equity.

“Steep depreciation of the Indian rupee coupled with consistently high crude oil prices has led to a challenging quarter for the Indian aviation industry,” Kingfisher said in a statement on Thursday.

Kingfisher lost 4.44 billion rupees in the fiscal third quarter, 74.8 percent more than a loss of 2.54 billion rupees a year previously. Revenue fell 15.2 percent to 13.42 billion rupees.

Kingfisher, named after India’s most famous beer owned by its parent company, has seen planes grounded for safety shortcomings and faced immense investor scrutiny on its plans to revive the airline.

Shares in Kingfisher, which has never made a profit, have dropped almost 60 percent since the beginning of last year, shrinking the airline’s market value to around $270 million.

The airline, which said last month it was in talks with Hong Kong-based distressed debt firm SC Lowy Financial for a possible investment, this month put on hold plans to join the global oneworld alliance.

A government panel this month approved a plan to allow airlines to directly import jet fuel, seen easing fuel costs for troubled carriers, while India is expected to soon allow foreign carrier to own up to 49 percent in local airlines.

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