ORLANDO, Fla., March 13 The head of aircraft
finance giant International Lease Finance Corp urged
India on Wednesday to release six passenger jets held "hostage"
by a bureaucratic dispute after struggling Kingfisher Airlines
failed to pay for them.
ILFC had warned in January that a failure to return leased
airplanes to their true owners when airlines cannot pay their
bills could put the country's aviation growth at risk by scaring
According to Los Angeles-based ILFC, the Delhi High Court
ruled last month that ILFC could have access to its aircraft to
ensure they can be refurbished and maintained.
But ILFC Chief Executive Henri Courpron told Reuters that
the situation on the ground remained unresolved.
"We have made legal and political progress but people are
not following instructions from the government," Courpron said
in a telephone interview. "We have to stop this hostage
He did not say which Indian authorities or people he held
responsible for failing to apply the court's decision.
Ultimately, ILFC wants to fly the Airbus aircraft
out of India to allow them to be used by other operators. But
that would require the consent of Indian authorities.
For now, the planes are sitting idle in Delhi, Mumbai and
Kingfisher's financial difficulties have left the airline's
fleet grounded since October.
Germany's DVB Bank said in December it had sued
India's aviation regulator and Kingfisher to have two planes it
financed for the troubled carrier de-registered, a possible
first step toward recouping its funds.
The two disputes are seen as an important test of an
international agreement known as the Cape Town convention,
designed to make it more attractive for leasing companies to
invest by duplicating repossession rights available in the
United States when airlines default on lease payments.
Courpron said he expected the sale of a majority of ILFC to
a Chinese consortium by its owner, U.S. insurer AIG, to go ahead
as planned in the second quarter, dismissing doubts expressed by
some delegates at a Florida aviation conference that it would.
About 38 percent of the audience at an industry panel
predicted in a straw poll that the Chinese sale would not go
ahead, but Courpron said ILFC was solely focused on it.