New Delhi/Mumbai, Oct 2: Debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, which has stopped operations following a flash strike by a section of its employees, Tuesday told the aviation regulator it expected flights to restart after it settled employees’ dues in the next few days.
The announcement was made by Kingfisher’s chief executive Sanjay Agarwal who was summoned here by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to give a status report on the airline’s functioning.
“We will clear the pending salaries in the next few days. We have shared the steps we are going to take in the next few days with the DGCA,” Agarwal told reporters here after the meeting.
The debt-ridden airline was virtually grounded Monday as the passenger carrier had to cancel all its 50 flights after a section of its employees went on a flash strike Sunday demanding payment of their dues, pending since March, by Oct 5.
Key personnel like aircraft maintenance engineers, whose aircraft airworthiness clearance is mandatory for any flight to take off, also struck work.
The employees claim that non-payment of salaries has affected their morale and built up stress levels that can also affect operational safety.
This prompted Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh’s decision that certified engineers would inspect whether the airline was adhering to DGCA’s safety norms.
Ajit Singh said Monday that the carrier would not be allowed to fly if it failed safety tests.
“I have asked DGCA to look into the matter. If safety norms are not followed, then we will not allowed them (Kingfisher Airlines) to fly,” Singh said.
On its part, the company asked its employees to restore normal operations and resume their duties, failing which the management might take action.
“All employees are hereby called upon to immediately and forthwith restore normalcy and resume normal duties. The company is left with no other option but to take firm and decisive steps as advised in law, including disciplinary action,” said Prakash Mirpuri, vice president, corporate communications, Kingfisher Airlines.
“Meanwhile, it has been decided that flight operations will be suspended for the next three days, until Oct 4,” Mirpuri said.
The airline had the lowest market share in August, which stood at 3.2 percent.
According to a report by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), Kingfisher Airlines may have to shut down operations if $600 million is not infused in it in the next two months.
The report estimated that Kingfisher Airlines had suffered a total loss of $220-$260 million in 2012-13. The company reported a net loss of Rs.650.78 crore ($117 million) for the quarter ended June 30.