The Kingfisher Airlines is on its deathbed. Its employees have not received their salaries for the last five months. The airport usage charges to be paid to the Airports Authority of India are pending. The cheque issued by the airline bounce often. Now, the airline could operate only a marginal fleet of ATR aircraft.
While it may be true that former Director General of Civil Aviation Bharat Bhushan was up to a decision to shut Kingfisher, the airline spokesperson has denied it.
“No communication or notice has been received from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” said Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson Prakash Mirpuri.
The airline also vehemently denied any linkage to the recent transfer of Bhushan from the top aviation job.
Most Kingfisher employees below the vice-resident rank (a few of the 40 vice-presidents too) wish to land in new jobs, but are sticking on in the hope of collecting their pending salaries.
All managers posted internationally have been called back. While some left on their own, others were given equivalent positions in India. No salary, of course!
What worries the Kingfisher staff and pilots alike is Vijay Mallya’s apathy towards the grim state of affairs. Not only has he cold shouldered the employee representations, but also failed to commit on paying their dues. One of the employees stated that the monies that Mallya received from Sahara’s investment in Force One team was not channelised into the airline.
With its international linkage completely cut-off from IATA platforms of common service, Kingfisher’s dire state of affairs is obvious. While the Airports Authority of India went to the court for their bouncing cheque, the Income Tax Department froze the airline’s accounts several times.
It is obvious under these circumstances that Kingfisher continues to survive only because of political support. But the official line goes that until the Kingfisher operated five aircraft under all safety precautions, the civil aviation directorate could not do anything against the airline.
“This may not hold true in the near future,” a ministry official said.