Friday, June 18, 2010

Paramount Airways Fights Indian Government Over Licensing Dispute

Jun 17, 2010

By Neelam Mathews

South Indian regional carrier Paramount Airways has filed a dispute against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for clamping down on its scheduled operations, forcing it to return three of its five operating aircraft to lessor GECAS for alleged nonpayment.

In India, an airline must have at least five aircraft to remain a scheduled operator, but Paramount has claimed it is not the regulator’s job to solve such commercial disputes.

The carrier says its plans for growth are still intact. However, all aircraft procurement now requires an import license from the DGCA and its approval, which Paramount does not expect to receive until at least August.

The airline claims it will purchase more aircraft and has a No Objection Certificate for 22 aircraft. It also says that it will induct two older Airbus A320s in its fleet next month. “We will use what is available for major routes and then replace with new ones,” an airline spokesman says. It is not clear whether it has given advance payment for the 10 A320s it claims to have ordered from Airbus.

It also says it has ordered six Bombardier Q400s. “The aircraft are ready and painting is complete. All we need is the DGCA license,” says a spokesman.

Presently, its fleet comprises only one Embraer in operation with the second awaiting its engine from Lufthansa Technik. Paramount has also denied that ECC Leasing Co., a subsidiary of Embraer, has asked DGCA to de-register the two aircraft in its possession due to nonpayment of dues. “There is no case with ECC. It is a maintenance issue which will be resolved.”

Recently, DGCA’s inspection of Paramount facilities were said to be deficient in operations. “These were minor and we have complied with them. There was no single observation regarding flight safety nor an observation on the crew. It had more to do with back-up computer software,” says the spokesman.

AviationWeek learned that for the past three days Paramount was not flying, nor was it paying its crews. Denying this, Paramount says it is a “misconception.”

The carrier completes five years of its operation in October, which entitles it to fly if it has at least 20 aircraft. “You’ll be surprised what we can achieve,” says the spokesman hinting that the carrier would fly on international routes if it receives the proper clearances.

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