New Delhi: The Kingfisher Airlines lockout which has been on since October 1 may be extended further with employees not willing to join back work till their dues are cleared. Online bookings which were earlier available from October 13 onwards, have now been extended to October 20. On Tuesday, Kingfisher Airlines CEO Sanjay Aggaarwal had sent a letter to all employees urging them to join back work. "Unless we can keep our operations going, we will not be able to rectify the situation. We need you to help us to have any chance of getting back to normalcy. Without all of you, without exception, coming back to work, we will have no way forward," wrote Sanjay.
Employees of the beleaguered airline are planning to launch further protests as part of their nationwide agitation over unpaid dues for the last seven months. According to sources, the employees of Kingfisher Airlines have made it clear that they will not join back work till they get their salaries.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped airline has to reply to the show-cause notice of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by October 20. The regulator had sent them a notice on October 5 asking why they should not cancel their license.
On unpaid salaries, the CEO said, "Given the pain that all of you and your families have gone through over the last year due to delay in payment of salaries, we can only tell you in utmost sincerity that this situation pains us immensely too." The letter, which gave no concrete assurance as to when the dues would be paid, came a day after Kingfisher pilots, engineers and other staff staged a demonstration here to demand early payment of seven month dues. They blamed the management for "not listening to our problems. We are ready to talk but have not received any response".
The lead lender to Kingfisher Airlines SBI on Thursday said banks would do everything possible to recover their money. "We will do whatever is appropriate in the best interest of the group of banks," State Bank of India (SBI) Managing Director, Mid-corporates, S Vishwanathan said. He said every effort would be made at recovering the
maximum amount "by all possible methods" which includes letting the company run again, winding up the company, sale of assets or sale of the company itself.
SBI is the largest lender to the near-bankrupt airline with an NAP exposure of Rs 1,580 crore and the interest which has not been serviced since January. Banks, which declared Kingfisher as a non-performing asset in January in 2012, gave a succour to the carrier in the face of the employee strike by agreeing to release around Rs 60 crore last week from an escrow account.
The banks have, however, flatly refused the airline's request for fresh loans and asked it to come up with a revival plan by end of October and the future strategies will depend on that, Vishwanathan said. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is also the promoter chairman of the liquor giants United Spirits and Unit Breweries, is desperately trying to raise funds to save Kingfisher Airlines. Kingfisher, which was till last year the No 2 airline, is down to the last slot in market share and has not posted profits since its launch in May 2005.
With Additional Inputs from PTI