Kingfisher Airlines faces a lengthy shutdown if the cash-strapped and debt-ridden carrier is unable to pay its employees’ salaries.
Kingfisher ceased operations on Monday amid labor strife and reports of violence between workers and airline management. The airline said they would resume operations after Thursday but that may not happen.
The Times of India reports:
‘The government is taking a tougher stance after allowing the airline to operate for months without paying salaries, although it has stopped short of forcing a closure of the heavily indebted carrier. Kingfisher has debt of $1.4 billion, owed mostly to government-controlled banks including State Bank of India, the country’s top lender.
“There is a stalemate,” Vikrant Patkar, a Mumbai-based pilot in command, told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Kingfisher’s chief executive and chief operating officers.
“The company has refused to pay us seven months of salary. So we will not let any flight to operate at least from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore,” he said.
The airline, controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, won’t get the government’s approval to resume flying before it pays staff salaries and submits an acceptable recovery plan, a senior official at the aviation regulator told reporters on Tuesday, declining to be identified as the negotiations are private.
“This is going to last for a long time,” said Sharan Lillaney, an aviation analyst at Angel Broking in Mumbai.’
The airline is reported to be $1.4 billion in debt.