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Kingfisher Slips To 5th Place By Mkt Share

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Kingfisher Airlines fell to fifth place in domestic market share during November, from third in the previous month, after the cash-strapped carrier grounded planes and cut routes, government data showed.

Kingfisher, which was once India's second largest carrier by passengers, recorded a market share of 14 per cent, ahead only of budget carrier Go Airlines, during the month.

Kingfisher's market share fell primarily due to less capacity offered in November, the data showed.

The country's largest airline, Jet Airways, including its unit JetLite, had the largest market share of 27.1 per cent, followed by budget carrier IndiGo with 19.8 per cent and Air India with a 17.4 per cent, the data showed.

Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya said last month that Kingfisher stopped flying on heavily loss-making routes, and the carrier had also grounded some aircraft for fleet reconfiguration after the airline decided to discontinue its low-cost business.

Debt-laden Kingfisher is scouting for funds and is negotiating with its lenders for Rs 700 crore of working capital.

It has debt of about Rs 6500 crore owed to a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India.

The airline aims to cut debt to Rs 3700 crore through sale and lease-back of aircraft, sale of a property in Mumbai and conversion of rupee loans into foreign loans at a lower interest rate.

Domestic air traffic rose 17.6 per cent to 55 million passengers in the first 11 months of 2011, data showed.

That growth has failed to translate into profits for India's airline industry, where all the major carriers except IndiGo are loss-making, hit by high jet fuel costs and an inability to raise fares in a cut-throat market.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has forecast a record Rs 13,175 crore to Rs 15,810 crore loss for Indian airlines for the fiscal year ending March 2012, with state-run Air India alone likely to account for more than half of it.

At 9.53 am, shares of Kingfisher were 1.85 per cent lower at 21.20 rupees in a weak Mumbai market that was down 0.74 per cent. Its stock has fallen over 67 per cent so far this year.

(Reuters)