Shatterred dreams. Kingfisher Airlines frozen pilot recruitments of ASA passed outs

It is very unfortunate what has happenned to the students of American School of Aviation but now it is turning out to be more worse for those already passed out from ASA. On-going slump in Aviation Sector all over the world has forced India’s second largest Domestic carrier Kingfisher Airlines to freeze current and further pilot recruitments and Airline is not honouring the ‘letters of intent’ it issued for the position of co-pilots earlier this year, mostly passed out students from American School of Aviation, according to the Indian media reports.

Young pilots, who received letters of intent from Kingfisher Airlines promising them co-pilot positions once they completed Type Rating training in American School of Aviation say, several of them have successfully completed their course and have got Indian licences, but have not heard from the airline regarding the promised job.

”They have been told that the airline do not require crew. The communication was given to students as and when they completed course and contacted the airline for the promised job,” says a source.

A young pilot who had been issued this letter says, ”The letter was issued to me in April and it clearly stated that I had to bear the course fee at the American School of Aviation, a one & only institute recognized by the airline. Since a job at the end of the course was guaranteed I coughed up USD 72,000 for this training programme. But after I came back, I contacted Kingfisher but I was asked to stay put and that they would get back to me, which has not happened so far.”

When contacted, a Kingfisher spokesperson – appearing hassled – said the airline would comment on the matter after a day. He referred to the statement issued by the airline on Saturday on the salary cut issue that spoke of the turbulence in the aviation industry meriting reduction in the capacity deployed.

‘All these letters say that the airline would absorb us once foreign flight licence is converted into Indian and we are found ‘skilled enough’,” avers a pilot, who too holds an Letter of Intent. He says this ”skilled enough” criteria that airlines could use against them.

The present job crisis seems routed in the massive recruitments that several airlines undertook in the year 2006 when many pilots undertaking training in India were called for placements. However, no airline is undertaking such placement exercises now. The placements in 2006 included a psychometric test and a personal interview following which letters of intent promising a job in the airline were offered. ”Of 107 people who had appeared for these interviews, 45 were selected and I was one of them,” says a pilot who had appeared for Kingfisher interview.

In 2007 when these cadets were training in American School of Aviation, senior officials of the airline visited them there also. American School of Aviation used to run 12 month course named Kingfisher Airlines Programme (KFA) India, offering special discounts to KFA employees, their siblings or children. During the programme, they get free housing facility, which estimated to cost around $3,500.


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Open letter to the parents of victimized ASA students

Dear Parents of victimized ASA students:

I have no doubt the sentiment and plea expressed in the letters addressed to the respected Mr. Vayalar Ravi, the Minister sent by many of you represent the collective emotions of those who were caught up in the recent ASA fiasco of horrendous order of magnitude. My heart goes out to you all during this time of enduring hardship.

If I may, I’d like to ask if any one of you ever received a reply from the Minister’s office for coming forward with a relief offer of any kind let alone simply acknowledging the receipt of your letter so far?…….thought so.

While I sincerely hope a meaningful relief is forthcoming from either government, it seems that to happen in this instance is far less likely much to everyone’s disappointment.

While I am firmly convinced what the duo Prince and Reny have done to the students amounts to a criminal fraud and they must be brought to justice, I am also firmly convinced that the recovery of the lost student’s funds should be vigorously pursued by all means by instituting the most formidable consume fraud case in the history of Indian jurisprudence against ASA as well KFA as a plausible accomplice by knowingly or unknowingly in aiding and abetting the Ponzi scheme then run by ASA.

It won’t happen overnight and no one can do it alone. It takes a collective determination and intention (will) to follow through until the objective is achieved. Never mind the government assistance, it’s not coming except in a form of meaningless lip services and dancing and skirting around the issue.

Why not organizing the ASA student family group in India by contacting and enlisting alliances with other families, consumer advocacy groups, legal outreach groups and likes all the while promoting public media attention?

It will succeed eventually as long as the effort continues. Just expecting someone else to do it won’t work because nothing will ever get done in that way. Everyone must get involved and take an active role however small that may be in a collective effort for a common cause. Isn’t that what the great people of India brought down the Great Britain to its knees to forfeit then the colonial territory in the end?

It can be done and to think otherwise you’re vastly underestimating what the collective effort by a group of determined people can achieve. Don’t be daunted by a sheer size of KFA and the Indian lending institutions as the corporate size means little, if anything, in the justice of law. Rise up and press on!

All the best and good luck to you all.

Sincerely,

Echo Yankee, ATP/A&P

Only chance of recovery of the student’s fees from ASA is……………….

Hello ASA students,

First off, I’d like to express my sincere sympathy for those students stranded by the recent ASA fiasco and wish you all the early arrival of meaningful assistance to alleviate the current enduring hardship. I have no personal stake in this ordeal and neither lost nor gained anything from this occurrence. Nevertheless I can’t stop being indignant about both Prince and Reny of their incompetence and deceit whichever the characterization is appropriate that brought to cause a current plight onto those young aspiring Indian students.

In as much as I’d like to believe that Prince and Reny stashed away a sizable amount of cash somewhere as some still like to speculate or believe and therefore there’s some chance of recovery of their prepaid fees, it pains me to tell you all such chances to exist is literally infinitesimal if not nonexistent.

I know it’s easier said than done but give it a rest on a hope of recovery by a means of law suit. In the Breach of Contract case such as this, you will most likely prevail in the court and obtain a judgment. But think about it, what good is it that the judgment that can collect nothing from the defaulting party. A writ of execution issued from the court is just a useless paper of no value. Remember no one wins in a law suit except lawyers. (been there, done that, fought an airport use permit issue against a county ordinance in the US Federal Court and won the battle but lost the war in the end after consuming 3 years and $150K in legal fees, .a Pyrrhic victory indeed.

Judging from the reported size of operation,(110 students, 43 instructors, 40 aircraft) the monthly operating cost could be anywhere from $225k to $250k/mo. or more to keep that size of operation going. Remember ASA did not have $4.4 mil in a lump sum cash to start with. It’s an accumulative total revenue over the time they were in business. Unless they had an sufficient operating capital set aside which I doubt, their monthly operating expenses were entirely relied on one source; student fees. There’re good months with some surplus fund left and there’re some bad months with an insufficient amount of income even to cover the monthly overhead. It’s highly probable that ASA needed at minimum 4 to 5 new students to keep its doors open. All fees collected from the students were all spent long since and I bet they’re just scraping by from month to month with a hope of someday getting ahead with an arrival of new enrollment group consisting of substantial number of students. Unfortunately, that day never came and the KFA fallout was the last straw. And while they were still at it, the problems started to pile up one after another. It probably started with a minor student’s complain and then rapidly growing to many issues that eventually raised red flags and invited all kinds of government scrutinies from all directions FAA, County’s office, IRS, FTA (Calif. State Franchise Tax Board) and all. Despite less than honorable character references made about both Prince and Reny in many posts, I doubt they had planned this outcome from the beginning. It’s a case of pure incompetence and mismanagement. They had somehow managed to slip their foot in the door and pried open the business opportunity just in time to ride the surging tide of pilot shortages beginning to be faced by the Indian airlines.

Some of you already know about another flight school closure earlier this year which draws some parallels to the events at ASA in the order of far greater magnitude.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_State_Helicopters

Silver State Helicopter (SSH) school headquartered in Las Vegas closed abruptly by filing Chapter 7 leaving 2,500 students out to the street. They operated over 250 helicopters at over 40 schools nationwide in the US. All students prepaid $70,000 each for their training fees. A Class action suit is pending in the Nevada Court and the lawyers are having field days. Good lawyers can compose an opposing lawyer’s argument before composing his own and they are very good and capable indeed and naturally they command high fees most can’t afford.

The only chance of recovery of the student’s fees from ASA is by naming KFA along with banks and lending institutions as co-defendant on the premise that they too are culpable for the damages sustained by those entrusting students. Their failure to perform proper audit and due diligence on the flight school led to the demise of the program today otherwise succeeded. This premise has a much greater chance of succeeding and the judgement amount of $5 mil range plus legal expenses has far more chances of collection from KFA and the Indian lending institutions involved than nonexistent collection probability from the duo Prince and Reny.

Now sit tight and think hard about the good advices offered in the Capt. Kishore’s post and begin to make a check list of your own action plan and proceed to follow thru on it one by one. BTW, make sure to insist on a kind of insurance policy like the one mentioned in the navdeev’s post if you’re fortunate enough to take out another loan again.

Before too long, you’ll be out of the soup and turbulence and you’ll be back cruising in the smooth blue skies again. How do I know this? Well I went through the similar ordeals few times myself since my first arrival in the US in 1968 from Asia and got my ATP, A&P, MEI, AD and few more ratings and pursued my aviation career until my semi-retirement from flight duties few years ago. Well, that’s my two cents. Hang tight and never ever give up your goal.
All the best.

Echo Yankee, Real identity not revealed……