Kingfisher Airlines was forced on Saturday to cancel around 40% of its 110-odd daily flights as employees — led by its pilots — went on strike for not having been paid since February.
Earlier, a section of pilots struck work on July 10 while there was a strike threat a week before that too. The airline management promised to pay on July 13. But many employees did not get their salaries on Friday.
The airline said in a statement that more than 75% of employees were paid and the rest will salaries by July 16. Mallya wrote to employees the strike was not going to produce cash.
He said, “It only makes it more difficult to recover. I personally have devoted more time to our airline than to any other UB Group company.”
The strike comes a day after new DGCA chief Prashant Sukul asked airlines at a review meeting to ensure timely payment of salaries. “We are keeping a close watch on KFA. If the strike continues, we’ll have a comprehensive review on Monday,” a DGCA official said.
The debt-hit airline has been in the news during the last few days, following reports that DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan had been removed from office a day after he decided to ask KFA to pay salaries or face action.
The aviation ministry and the airline, however, said it was “highly incorrect and mischievous to even suggest that the transfer of DGCA was in any way connected to KFA”.
Meanwhile, aviation minister Ajit Singh said, “The DGCA has to ensure that KFA does not compromise on safety. The airline has to inform the regulator and passengers about cancellations in advance.”
Aviation ministry officials said KFA’s licence could not be cancelled as long as it had five operational aircraft in its fleet and complied with all safety regulations. But said a stranded passenger in Delhi: “Even if KFA offers tickets at half the price than what others are selling at, I won’t travel by it.”