NEW DELHI : India's Kingfisher Airlines received a fresh jolt after federal revenue officials froze 40 bank accounts of the debt-crippled carrier, a report said on Saturday.

The Press Trust of India said Indian authorities had sealed the accounts because of non-payment of taxes. "Over Thursday and Friday, we froze 40 bank accounts of Kingfisher Airlines. They failed to meet the February 29 deadline to make the (tax) payments," service tax department commissioner S.K. Solanki told the news agency.

"The airline owes 400 million rupees (US$8.16 million) to the department," Solanki added. The move comes after federal income tax authorities earlier froze other accounts of the struggling carrier after it failed to pay tax arrears. In addition to back taxes, Kingfisher owes suppliers, lenders and staff millions of dollars and has scrapped scores of scheduled flights with only 28 of its fleet of 64 aircraft in operation.

Many of its planes have been reclaimed by lessors or are awaiting spare parts. The airline was the country's second-largest until earlier this year when its cash woes deepened. Industry body the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has estimated that Kingfisher requires an injection of at least US $400m to keep in business. The company's net loss widened sharply to 4.44b rupees ($88m) in the three months to December from a loss of 2.54 billion rupees a year earlier.

 while its debt totals at least US$1.3 billion.

Company chairman and brewer baron Vijay Mallya has said closing Kingfisher "is not an option" and is seeking fresh capital infusions to avert collapse.

Late last month, media reports said Mallya told employees in an email that the airline had raised money to pay back salaries.

Mallya has told The Times newspaper in London that Kingfisher is in discussions with two unnamed foreign airlines about a tie-up that could save the carrier.

Analysts have mentioned IAG, parent company of British Airways, and Etihad Airways, flagship carrier of the United Arab Emirates, as firms that might be interested in a Kingfisher stake.