The month-long stalemate at Kingfisher Airlines ended on Thursday as the management conceded to the employees’ demands and lifted the lockout — just in time for promoter Vijay Mallya to arrive for the Formula One Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida near Delhi on Friday.
A Kingfisher Airlines official adjusts a closed counter sign at their reservation counter at Bangalore airport. AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
The truce with around 4,000 employees, who have not been paid since March, pre-empted their planned demonstration at the F1 sporting event where Mallya was expected to come. The workers had been demanding that the management pay at least four months’ salary before they resumed work.
The airline management agreed to pay the March salary in 24 hours, the April salary by October 31 and the May and June dues before Diwali and December-end, respectively.
But resumption of Kingfisher's flight operations may take at least three weeks as the airline would have to get the suspension of its flying licence revoked by the DGCA which also has to satisfy itself on safety issues as well, apart from the viability of the airline's financial and operational plans.
Sources in the airline said Mallya had been quite keen on attending the three-day sporting event where he owns a Formula 1 team, the Sahara Force India, and did not want disgruntled Kingfisher employees to hold demonstrations to show him in a bad light.
"All Kingfisher Team members back at work and fully supportive. I sincerely thank all of them for their faith and continuing commitment," Mallya wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
"All employees have agreed to resume duty right now. They are on duty as we speak," Sanjay Aggarwal, Kingfisher Air's chief executive officer.
Sources in the civil aviation ministry said that Aggarwal met senior officials in the ministry and is planning to submit a new operational plan to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Arun Mishra "very soon".