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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Pilots go on strike, Mallya says don't 'disgrace' KFA

PTI  New Delhi, July 14, 2012
First Published: 14:06 IST(14/7/2012) | Last Updated: 18:29 IST(14/7/2012)

With its pilots' strike disrupting Kingfisher's flight schedules, the airline's promoter Vijay Mallya on Saturday asked the agitating employees not to talk to the media or "disgrace" the company saying it would affect the recapitalisation efforts.

Mallya, however, gave no assurance by when the agitators salary dues would be cleared.

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"I really hope that good sense will prevail. I am doing my best. If some of you think that cancelling flights, speaking to media, or disgracing our Company will produce cash and salaries, you are wrong," Mallya said.

"This only makes my recapitalisation efforts more difficult by causing concern and apprehension among our potential investors," Mallya said in an open letter to all staffers on a day when the airline pilots struck work to protest non-payment of wages leading to cancellation of over 30 flights across its network.

While a spokesperson said the salaries to the unpaid staff would be paid by Monday next, there was no mention of this in the letter.

"The media will disgrace us and our flights going forward will be empty leading to further loss of income as our guests will not select Kingfisher if they are doubtful about the integrity of our schedule," Mallya said.

Maintaining that "damaging the future of Kingfisher in the public eyes is not going to produce cash", he said, "it only makes it more difficult to recover."

"We struggled immensely and I personally have devoted more time to our airline than to any other UB Group Company in addition to investing over Rs. 4,000 crore into Kingfisher Airlines since we started."

This is the third time in the last twelve days that the pilots have struck work. The earlier strike on July 11 saw 12 flights getting cancelled.

The strike on July 2 was called off after a few hours with the management promising to pay some sections of staff from July 6.

Kingfisher is, at present, carrying out truncated domestic and international operations with about 15 aircraft, in place of 64.

A large number of its flight engineers have reportedly quit over the past five months, primarily due to delayed payments. In April, around 200 engineers reported sick as a mark of protest over the issue.

The airline, which has not posted profit since inception in May 2005, has reported a loss of Rs. 1,151.50 crore in the March quarter, has a debt of over Rs. 7,500 crore and almost an equal amount of accumulated losses.

This is what he wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

Today is an important day in our history. Unfortunately a sad one.

Several of you have been in dialogue with our CEO and also Hitesh Patel. The commitments made by them have been met to the extent of 75% as of Friday.

We struggled immensely and I personally have devoted more time to our Airline than to any other UB Group Company in addition to investing over Rs. 4,000 crores into Kingfisher Airlines since we started.

We worked hard to gain the trust and confidence of our guests. Today, by forcibly cancelling several flights we have lost most of that.

The media will disgrace us and our flights going forward will be empty leading to further loss of income as our guests will not select Kingfisher if they are doubtful about the integrity of our schedule.

Damaging the future of Kingfisher in the public eyes is not going to produce cash. It only makes it more difficult to recover.

I really hope that good sense will prevail. I am doing my best. If some of you think that cancelling flights, speaking to media, or disgracing our Company will produce cash and salaries, you are wrong. This only makes my recapitalization efforts more difficult by causing concern and apprehension among our potential investors.

One of the main reasons that has motivated me into investing more money to keep Kingfisher flying is that I see light ahead. I invite you to share my confidence and work towards realising that light.

I sincerely hope that all of you will listen carefully to my appeal and work together to restore Kingfisher to its rightful place in the Aviation industry.

Regards,

Vijay Mallya, Chairman.


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