Deccan 360 grounded

INDIA’S Deccan 360 cargo airline has been grounded for defaulting on its loans.

Aviation entrepreneur, Gorur Gopinath (right), started the cargo airline last year in an attempt to modernise the growing domestic cargo market. The carrier leased three A310Fs, one ATR 42-300F and three ATR 72-200Fs. Now Mauritius-based lessor Veling has confirmed it has taken back three of its aircraft.

Veling chairman Uday Nayak is reported to have said: “It’s true that we took back the three aircraft we had leased to Deccan 360 because the company had not been paying the dues.” Veling has made it clear though that rumours it is suing the airline are false.

However, Gopinath seems to be in denial over his company’s fortunes as he tried to claim to an Indian newspaper that the company voluntarily returned the aircraft. “[They] have not been taken away, we gave them back. We had taken the aircraft on lease for three years, [but] they were huge and we needed smaller planes. So, we returned them, and purchased the ATRs.”

When Gopinath was asked how he cancelled a three-year lease and it was pointed out that the ATRs were bought some time ago, he terminated the phone call.

Gopinath estimated the airline would pull in revenues of US$73.5 million by the end of the financial year 2010 but it only made $9 million, with losses of $44 million.

RIL (Reliance Industries Ltd, a massive Indian conglomerate) invested heavily into Deccan 360 in April last year. RIL is now, allegedly, seriously re-evaluating its relationship with Gopinath.

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