India to help lessors, financiers repossess grounded planes-sources

NEW DELHI, March 5 Tue Mar 5, 2013 4:35am EST

NEW DELHI, March 5 (Reuters) - India will make it easier for leasing and finance firms to take back planes used by the now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, two government sources said, after financial companies complained that India was earlier complicating the process.

Germany's DVB Bank SE, a plane financier, has sued India's aviation regulator and Kingfisher to have two planes it financed for the carrier deregistered by the regulator, which would allow them to be flown in another country.

Cash poor and debt-strapped Kingfisher has not flown for five months.

Separately, U.S.-based International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC), one of the world's largest leasing firms, sent a team earlier this year to repossess planes from Kingfisher for unpaid bills.

The planes remained stranded by administrative hurdles and problems getting the planes ready to fly, ILFC Chief Executive Henri Courpron told Reuters in January.

On Tuesday, the government sources said the ministry of civil aviation has decided to try to help remove obstacles to leasing companies' efforts to take back planes from airlines that cannot pay, in compliance with international standards.

Separately, India's Director General of Civil Aviation, the top aviation regulator, said he hopes to reach an amicable settlement with DVB, Kingfisher and Indian tax authorities, who took possession of two Kingfisher planes in a bid to recover tax dues. A meeting is scheduled for March 26 to discuss the issue.

"We are always willing to help the leasing companies. We are committed to a solution," Arun Mishra, the director general, told Reuters. He added he does not rule out an out of court settlement with DVB.

A Kingfisher spokesman did not have an immediate comment.

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