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Kingfisher Airlines employees to meet management

Updated: October 22, 2012, 12:29 AM IST
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Kingfisher Airlines employees to meet management
We want the airline to start operations and to become viable again," a senior official who is on strike said in New Delhi.

New Delhi/Mumbai: Striking employees of Kingfisher Airlines on Sunday said they will meet the management to find a solution to the 20-day strike that has crippled operations and led the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to suspend the carrier's licence. "We will hold a meeting with the management tomorrow (Monday) in Mumbai. We also want the airline to start operations and to become viable again," a senior official who is on strike said in New Delhi.

"We will consider any offer presented by the airline which is logical and meets the minimum criteria of our demands," the official added. Nearly, 6,500 employees of the airline face the possibility of losing their jobs if the airline continues to be in a state of lockout, which has been extended till October 23. The average monthly wage bill of the airline is said to be around Rs 21 crore.

The employees went on a flash strike October 1 demanding payment of their salaries by by October 5, which have been pending since March. They also claimed that non-payment of salaries has affected their morale and built up stress levels that can also affect operational safety.

Key personnel like aircraft maintenance engineers, whose airworthiness clearance is mandatory for any flight to take off, also struck work. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Saturday, "If they are not able to provide any concrete revival plans on how to restart operations and to pay their employees, then the DGCA may cancel their licence."

Singh's comments came after the DGCA suspended the airline's operating licence, citing its inability to provide any reasonable revival plans. The airline on Friday extended till October 23 the lockout declared October 1 after negotiations with striking employees failed.

The airline had the lowest market share in September, which stood at 3.5 per cent. The airline has a total debt of Rs 7,000 crore from a consortium of banks. Bankers are scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday to decide on the fate of their exposure to Kingfisher Airlines. If they decide on writing off bad debt owed by the airline, it may have a negative impact on their quarterly performance and will also affect the scrip price in the equities market.

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 Rs 650.78 crore ($117 million) for the quarter ended June 30.

Currently, the airline has only 10 operational aircraft from a strength of around 66 planes a year ago. It was also the country's second largest airline by passenger traffic. The company's scrip at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Friday closed 4.58 per cent down and stood at Rs.11.45 from its previous close at Rs 12.

First Published: October 22, 2012, 12:29 AM IST
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