As the strike by Kingfisher Airlines staff entered its fourth day, employees protesting over pending salaries turned down negotiations with the airline management, indicating the impasse is unlikely to end soon.
As a result, not a single Kingfisher flight took off and landed in Mumbai.
On Monday, the debt-ridden airlines announced a partial lockout till October 4, after its entire fleet was grounded when pilots joined engineers who had been on strike since Sunday.
The loss-making airline has not paid salaries since March. According to the airline sources, while the management is willing to pay salaries for just two months to end the standoff, employees said they would not resume work unless all outstanding dues are cleared.
“They (management) called us for negotiations but we are tired of these fruitless meetings. Our demand is simple — clear dues and we will start flight operations,” said a senior Kingfisher commander who did not wish to be named.
Sources added that room for dialogue fell through following the airline’s statement on Monday, addressing protesters as ‘criminals.’
“We turned down job offers from an airline that was willing to pay us seven months’ salaries as joining bonus, because we believed in the Kingfisher management. This makes us criminals,” asked another pilot, requesting anonymity.
Since the airline had declared the partial lockout on Monday night, travellers booked on KFA flights did not turn up at the airport, unlike on Monday, when many were stranded. “I spent Rs3000 more to book a flight on another airline,” said Jogeshwari resident Kaustubh Desai.
A majority of travellers have lost faith in the debt-ridden airline. This reflects in the civil aviation ministry’s data on market share of domestic airlines. Kingfisher caters to only 3.2% passengers – the lowest till August.
The airlines issued a statement saying that the lockout would be lifted as soon as employees resume work.