New Delhi: As Kingfisher Airlines extended its partial lockout by a week till October 12, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Friday said the debt-ridden company will have to satisfy airline regulator DGCA on safety before it gets permission to fly again. "There are a lot of factors involved in it. That includes the salaries of the employees, their disgruntlement issues and others. If the employees are disgruntled there is an issue of safety."
"In order to give them permission to fly, they have to satisfy the DGCA on all these issues. The rest is if the law allows or...if we want to suspend their licence or revoke it, we have to see if the law permits," Singh told reporters. The airline on Thursday night extended its partial lockout till October 12 as talks between its management and employees failed to break the deadlock over non-payment of salaries for the last seven months.
Striking engineers and pilots have rejected the airline management's offer of one month salary dues in the next few days and remaining amount once the airline is recapitalised. Singh said the Kingfisher employees were hopeful till this stage and these strikes were limited to only a section of employees but now engineers have gone on strike raising the problem of maintenance.
Ajit Singh said if the employees were disgruntled, safety was an issue of concern.
"There are lot of companies that fail. There are a number of them that revive after failing. If a company has a loss period of five years, it does not mean it can't revive itself." "Here we have only two responsibilities. One is that the planes must fly safely and second is that they maintain their schedules so that there is no inconvenience to the passengers," Singh said, adding each aircraft must have an airworthiness certificate from engineers before it can fly. "The planes must be airworthy and they have to give a satisfactory report to the DGCA that the planes will be flying safely," he said.
Kingfisher has been saddled with a huge loss of Rs 8,000 crore and a debt burden of another 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.