Kingfisher Airlines A320. Courtesy, IT

Kingfisher Airlines (IT) founder and chairman Vijay Mallya vowed to keep the troubled airline operating even as it continues to cancel flights and fails to make numerous scheduled payments.

The airline has had trouble making payroll (ATW Daily News, Feb. 15 ) and its planned entrance into oneworld this month was postponed (ATW Daily News, Feb. 6). India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a December report that "a reasonable case exists for withdrawal of [IT's] airline operator permit as their financial stress is likely to impinge on safety" (ATW Daily News, Jan. 6).

But despite all of the trouble, Mallya was defiant in an interview with The Times of India published Monday, providing his most extensive public comments on IT's financial crisis.

"Closing down is not an option," Mallya told the newspaper. "It will not happen. Government does not want it to happen. It is not in the national interest." However, the Indian government has indicated it won't bail out privately held carriers such as IT.

Mallya said the airline will get "help. Help is not bailout. We have asked banks to consider our proposal to provide more working capital."

Regarding dozens of flight cancellations in recent days, he told the newspaper, "The abrupt disruption was unfortunate because our bank accounts were suddenly frozen by tax authorities. I don't deny we have taxes due. The bottom line is we requested for time to pay these dues."