Hard times back with a vengeance for Kingfisher

Oct 02, 2012, 13:39 IST | Bipin Kumar Singh

Staff strike hits beleaguered carrier again, leading to termination of all 50 flight operations on Monday; government says safety regulations must be followed at all costs

Not one out of the scheduled 50 Kingfisher flights took off yesterday.

In the latest blow for the ailing carrier, staff unrest resulted in widespread cancellations even as the company’s shares plummeted 5%. The government warned it would not allow Kingfisher to fly if safety rules were not followed, and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will meet the carrier’s executives today to discuss matters, union minister Ajit Singh said.

Mumbai's domestic airport
That empty feeling: The scene at Mumbai’s domestic airport yesterday following the strike called by Kingfisher employees. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Last minute flight disruptions resulted in scuffles between passengers and the airline staff on Sunday evening and Monday as well. “My 6.05 pm flight to Delhi was cancelled. During inquiry, the airline customer care representative said that flight would leave on time. Now I am rushing to book a 7.30 pm flight in another airline,” said Satish Kumar, who was traveling with some friends.

MiD DAY on Monday reported (‘Flyers scuffle with Kingfisher staffers over cancelled flight’) about the chaotic situation at Mumbai airport following termination of a flight to Delhi. Similar reports came in from the Capital as well.

Pilots and engineers of the airline in Mumbai were seen sitting at the carrier’s dispatch office at the domestic airport to mark their protest against non-payment of salaries.

“The management including our chairman made many promises, but failed to keep any. We have not been paid since March. We are not going to allow any flight operations till dues are settled and if someone from the management tries to fly an aircraft, he will have to face our ire,” a senior engineer with Kingfisher told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.

Speaking to MiD DAY, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said, “There is no one to certify the Kingfisher aircraft as all qualified engineers are on strike. It is a serious air safety issue and in such a situation we cannot risk the lives of travellers by allowing the planes to fly.”  

Kingfisher Airlines declares partial lock-out till Oct 4
Last night Kingfisher released this statement: “A series of protracted and unabated incidents of violence, criminal intimidation, assault, wrongful restraint and other illegal acts by a section of non-management Engineering staff and illegally refraining from attending work by a section of non-management Engineering staff and pilots which were all unnecessary and unprovoked commenced yesterday morning and continued today.

As a result of the said illegal actions including the strike, the Company has been unable to operate its flights. Therefore a partial lock-out is declared with immediate effect in respect of the non-management employees belonging to the Engineering and Flight Operations departments.

Management will review the situation on October 4, 2012 or the day on which this illegal strike is called off, whichever is earlier. Until such time, the Company is unable to operate flights as a result of the above said illegal actions.
We will keep you informed of further developments.”

— Sanjay Aggarwal, CEO Kingfisher Airlines 

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