Mumbai: Adding to Kingfisher Airlines' woes, countrywide protests were staged by the airline employees after CEO Sanjay Agarwal cancelled a meeting with them on Friday. The meetings between Agarwal and the employees in Bangalore and Chennai was cancelled with sources saying that some of the employees refused to meet the management.
Kingfisher Airlines employees are also staging protests in several cities. A group of employees took out a march from Mumbai airport to Kingfisher House on Friday morning while employees in Delhi plan to hold a candlelight vigil later in day.
On Thursday, banks finally agreed to release Rs 60 crores to the cash-trapped airline after an emergency meeting on Thursday in Mumbai at the SBI Bhawan. Kingfisher is expected to pay its employees' salaries with half that amount. But the lockout in the airline has been extended till October 12 and the airline fleet will remain grounded till then. The move to release the money came after the Income Tax department lifted the freeze on Kingfisher's accounts on Thursday.
Kingfisher Airlines, once India's second-largest airline, is half a year behind on salary payments and has grounded its fleet since Monday. Over 80 pilots and 270 Kingfisher engineers have been on intermittent strikes over the past few months, primarily over delay in payment of salaries.
The Kingfisher management had also threatened to take legal action against the striking workers if they did not resume their duties. In another fallout, Kingfisher Airlines company secretary Bharath Raghavan resigned on Thursday.
The airline issued a statement saying, "We regret that the illegal strike has still not been withdrawn and normalcy has not been restored in the company, thereby continuing to cripple and paralyse the working of the entire airline. In light of this, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd has been constrained to extend the partial lock-out which commenced from 1st of October up to Friday the 12th of October, 2012."
On Thursday the airline management held a meeting with a group of employees in Gurgaon to resolve the crisis but failed to break the deadlock. There was more confusion after the meeting as a Kingfisher Airlines official claimed that 100 employees were ready to resume work, but the airlines denied any such development.
Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson denied the statement given by VP, Corporate Affairs, Sanjay Bahadur after the meeting. He said that Bahadur was not the official spokesperson and that no such assurance had been given as yet.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has made it clear that Kingfisher Airlines would have to take permission from the DGCA to fly. "We have made it clear that Kingfisher has to get DGCA's permission if it wants to fly. Certified engineers have to approve it and the employees issue has to be sorted out," Ajit Singh said.
Meanwhile, a Kingfisher staffer's wife committed suicide on Thursday citing financial strain with the Civil Aviation Minister calling it an unfortunate incident.
Kingfisher has been saddled with a huge loss of Rs 8,000 crore and a debt burden of over Rs 7,000 crore, a large part of which it has not serviced since January. Several of its aircraft have been either taken away by its lessors or grounded by the Airports Authority of India for non-payment of dues during the past few months. Kingfisher's net loss in 2010-11 was Rs 1,027 crore and it doubled to Rs 2,328 crore in 2011-2012. The airline also owes money to 17 banks.