New Delhi: In a bid to prevent any protests by striking Kingfisher Airlines staffers during the upcoming Formula One motor racing, the management top brass on Thursday met the agitators in Delhi to try to break the deadlock over payment of salary dues. Airline promoter Vijay Mallya, who co-owns the Sahara Force India team that is participating in the Indian Grand Prix, does not want to see any disruption by the agitating employees.
The deadlock over payment of salary dues continued as the employees rejected the management's offer of staggered clearance of three months dues by Diwali and demanded payment of four months' backlog in lump sum by Friday evening. Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal met engineers and pilots in Delhi, who have been in the forefront of the strike since September 29.
Following the strike, the management had declared a lockout on October one that was followed up by suspension of their flying permit by aviation regulator DGCA, with all flight operations remaining suspended since then. Asked about impasse in the cash-strapped carrier, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "Salary is a big issue and the employees should be paid. But the bigger issue than that is their fiscal assurance to the DGCA ... They have lot of outstanding to the Airports Authority (of India), to companies, to lessors, so its not just a question of salaries to the employees."
He said their flying license, though suspended, was "still there but to allow them to fly again, the DGCA has to be satisfied on many more things." Noting that the airline had not yet submitted any revival plan to the DGCA, Singh said, "It is not a question of me being hopeful or not, in my view, its a very difficult proposition but not impossible."
In response to Aggarwal's mail to all employees offering staggered payment of three months' salary dues, the airline's Delhi-based engineering staff on Wednesday shot off a letter, asking the management to "pay the salary from March 2012 to June 2012 at one go on or before 26/10/12 1800 hrs."