Trouble for the cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines is likely to worsen as three senior commanders from the city quit on Tuesday, and 30 more have threatened to walk out if the ongoing dispute over their dues is not settled by March 19.
On Tuesday, the airline cancelled 11 flights out of Mumbai, which included the Mumbai-London flight. The cancellations could go up if the pilots quit, as that would leave Kingfisher with only a dozen commanders.
Striking pilots said that instead of resolving the issue, the airline management allegedly threatened them with dire consequences. The airline spokesperson did not respond to HT’s query on the pilots’ move and their allegations.
“As they cannot pay us, they are threatening us. We will walk out because it will be unsafe to operate flights under these conditions,” said a senior Kingfisher Airlines commander.
According to pilots, another private airline, which has an aircraft fleet similar to Kingfisher, was offering them three-months’ salary as a joining bonus.
“We have no paucity of jobs,” said another pilot, requesting anonymity. A section of pilots seeking jobs with Gulf-based private carriers are awaiting “no-objection” certificates from Kingfisher.
The striking pilots also alleged that with a large section refusing flight duty, the airline is likely to violate flight duty timing restriction set by the aviation regulator.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has imposed these restrictions because pilot fatigue could endanger the safety of passengers.
Although, passengers’ occupancy on Kingfisher flights have been dwindling over the past two months, a few booked to travel by the airline were stranded at the city airport due to the flight cancellations.
On Monday, of the 40 Kingfisher Airlines flights cancelled, 11 were from the city. Thirty-four of the 43 pilots did not report to work because the airline had not paid their salaries.