Yet again 30 flights of the near bankrupt Kingfisher Airline (KfA) between Delhi and Mumbai were cancelled on Wednesday as pilots and crew of the carrier struck work demanding wages that have not been paid since February.
The airline is saddled with a debt of Rs 7,000 with bankers not coming to its rescue any more, the airline’s future hangs in balance.
While 22 flights of KfA were cancelled from Delhi, nine were cancelled from Mumbai, sources said.
Following non payment of dues for over six months now a section of its employees, including pilots and engineers, have not been reporting to work. However, the airline management over the past few months has been trying to talk to its employees through the financial crisis but now it seems the employees are not willing to buy the management’s homilies.
Meanwhile, the airline’s board will meet in Delhi on August 10 to discuss the long-pending issues ahead of announcing its quarterly results, according to its spokesperson.
The airline’s operations have been disrupted time and again since April when pilots called off work protesting salary delays. “We just can’t work without being paid for such a long time. Hence the decision to strike work,” a pilot said.
“We hope that the strike will pull the attention of Parliament and our plight and misery echoes in political corridors,” an employee said
Even though KfA contract prohibits the formation of a union, the KFA Pilots Association were the first point of contact for the airline’s top brass. Though many e-mails and assurances were communicated by senior management, seldom did the company stick to them, pilots told TNIE. “Earlier, on many occasions, pilots had decided to get back to work after our Chairman (Vijay Mallya) had assured that salary payments would be made as soon as the accounts were de-freezed. But since they did not live up to their words, we don’t know whom to trust and when to end the strike,” they said.
But with repeated failures to meet assurances of salary payments, erstwhile employees association members state that most of them had already quit the airline or are on their way out.
Furthermore, the airline had its accounts frozen again when it defaulted the agreed amount of Rs 9 crore per week to the after they were earlier slapped with a notice of Rs 342 crore.
According to IT officials, the company had defaulted on the agreed sum, then started to make part payments of Rs 4.5 crore for a couple of weeks before the payments completely stopped. Lessors had taken back 32 aircraft over non-payment of rentals, taking their (Kingfisher’s) total number of aircraft to 14 only.