Passengers booked to travel on two Kingfisher Airlines flights from Mumbai were stranded at the city airport on Monday as a large section of pilots and engineers with the cash-strapped carrier did not report to work - the second agitation over pending salaries in a month.
Officials at the city airport confirmed that flights to Bhuj and Hubli were cancelled at the last minute.
Following a marathon meeting with the airline's top management officials, the group of protesters submitted a letter demanding salary payment for two months (December 2011 and January 2012) by Tuesday evening. The move came after airline chairman Vijay Mallya issued an email stating that his company would pay some portions of the pending salaries on April 4 and April 9.
"In the past, we have received similar mails assuring us that the salaries would be paid on a certain date. But none of these assurances have been met. Therefore, we do not believe the management anymore," stated the letter sent to the management. HT has a copy of the letter. The letter also stated that employees are shunning flight duties because they fear their troubled mental state could endanger passengers' safety.
The debt-ridden airline has not paid salaries since December 2011.
Sources in the airline said that several flights could be cancelled if the agitation continues. "On Monday, only two flights were cancelled because the airline is short of commanders operating turboprop aircraft flown on these routes. If the agitation continues, the airline will not have enough cockpit crew to operate flights," said a member from the protesting group.
Frequent employee agitations, rising outstanding bills with vendors and lack of funds to service aircraft has made the airline cut down its flight schedule of 57 daily flights to just 24 out of the city.
Since the marathon meeting between the airline management and the group of protesters turned inconclusive, a group of staffers had an unscheduled meeting with Mallya at his Napean Sea residence till the time of going to the press.