Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has yet again made it clear that Kingfisher Airlines cannot fly until it satisfies all the mandatory safety norms. "In order to give them (Kingfisher Airlines) permission to fly again, they have to satisfy the DGCA (Directorate-General of Civil Aviation) on all safety issues," Singh told reporters on Friday even as the airline extended its lockout for another week.
Asked if the airline's licence will be cancelled if it failed to meet the safety parameters, Singh said: "We will have to see the legality of the move to suspend or cancel their licence."
The airline declared a partial lockout October 1 after a flash strike by employees. Talks between the management and the striking employees over payment of pending dues failed Thursday. “We regret that the illegal strike has still not been withdrawn and normalcy not restored in the company,” said Prakash Mirpuri, vice president, corporate communications, Kingfisher Airlines.
Scores of disgruntled employees, including pilots, engineers and technicians, took out a procession in Mumbai Friday to the airline's Mumbai office demanding pending salaries and other dues. "We are making three demands - salary, salary, salary. Everything will be normal as soon as the management clears our pending dues as we are not able to run our households," a pilot taking part in the procession told IANS.
The airline's management had earlier informed the aviation regulator that it expected flights to restart after it settled employees' dues in the next few days. But the regulator had hauled up the airline as it cancelled all its 50 flights on Monday after employees went on strike a day earlier on Sunday demanding payment by October 5 of their dues, pending since March.
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.
The airline, which has a total debt of Rs7,000 crore from a consortium of banks, had the lowest market share in August at 3.2%.
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 company reported a net loss of Rs650.78 crore ($117 million) for the quarter ended June 30.
Currently, the airline has only 10 operational aircraft from an earlier strength of around 66 planes a year ago. It was also the country's second largest airlines by passenger traffic.
The company's scrip at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) fell by 4.68% and stood at Rs13.25 Friday from its previous close at Rs13.90.