Kingfisher Airlines has admitted for the first time that they are in a ‘make-or break’ situation regarding their very survival.
Kingfisher executive vice-president Hitesh Patel told his pilots in an email last Saturday that the airline is at a “critical juncture” as to whether they will be able to continue operations:
“I would like to, however, let you know that our airline is standing at a critical juncture, which will define whether we make it or not,” said Patel.
Kingfisher had to cancel almost 40 flights last Saturday when 80 pilots walked off the job after not being paid their salaries.
Patel assured the pilots that they would be paid by today and pleaded with them to not walk off the job again:
“I understand and empathize with the amount of personal issues you and your family have been through due to salary delays. I also understand that in spite of our best and most sincere endeavours, we may have failed on the timelines committed… your actions over the last few days continue to do irreparable harm to the airline. I urge you to please resume work,” the mail said.
Kingfisher pilots ARE back to work today, but they are not keen to stay on the job if their pay is delayed again:
“We told Patel very clearly that payment of February’s salary in mid-July is not a favour to us and that we must be told when the salary for March will be paid. Otherwise, we will resort to some action again,” said a pilot, adding that making people fly for months without paying them is a recipe for disaster.
The Indian government has said they will not step in and shut Kingfisher down as long as they basically offer safe flights and meet the safety regulations.
But unless the cash-strapped carrier can figure out a way to acquire financing to pull them out of debt, their days are clearly numbered.
Image: Flickr [amitchat]