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Kingfisher deadlock ends

Publication Date : 26-10-2012


The deadlock between the Kingfisher Airlines management and its staff, which resulted in a lockout at the beginning of this month, was resolved yesterday with the management agreeing to pay four months’ salary dues by December to employees.

"All our employees will resume work including the pilots and engineers. We will now continue to work together,” said the airline’s CEO, Sanjay Aggarwal, after holding separate meetings with striking pilots and engineers at the airport here.

The engineers’ representative, Subhash Chandra Mishra, yesterday said: “We are joining duty from today. We have accepted the management’s proposal for a staggered payment of four months’ salary dues by December.”

Mishra said the agitating staff had earlier rejected the same proposal made yesterday as “the management had failed to keep their promises. But today, our CEO, Sanjay Aggarwal has assured us that no such thing will happen and he will follow the payment schedule given to us.”

He said there was “no pressure” from the management when the employees decided to resume duty with immediate effect. “There will be no protest tomorrow at the Greater Noida venue of the Grand Prix. The crisis is over,” Mishra said.  

A representative of the striking pilots also said they will resume work immediately.  However, Kingfisher’s flight operations may take some time to resume as the airline has to get its suspended flying licence reinstated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Under the agreement, the management, which was earlier offering only three months salary, climbed down to accept the workers’ demand for payment of four out of seven months’ dues by December-end.

The timeframe of the payment of salaries has been communicated to the staff. While the March salary would be paid within 24 hours, the April salary would be paid by October 31, May dues before Diwali in mid-November and June salary by December-end. The salary dues from July to September would be paid by March next year after recapitalisation of the airline, members of the staff said.

The management also withdrew its circular asking the staffers to give a written undertaking before resuming duty. The beleaguered carrier, which early last year had a fleet of 66 aircraft, now has 10--seven Airbus A-320s and three ATR turbo-props. The airline is saddled with a loss of 8,000 crore rupes and a debt burden of another over  7,524 crore rupees, a large part of which has not been serviced for several months.(One crore is equivalent to 10 million.)

The Kingfisher management top brass met the striking engineers and pilots separately here in a bid to try to break the deadlock in order to prevent any protests by striking staffers during the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix, in which airline promoter Vijay Mallya is involved.

Mallya, who co-owns the Sahara Force India team that is participating in the Indian Grand Prix, wanted to avoid any disruption by the agitating employees during the motor race.

Earlier, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said: “While salary is a big issue and the employees should be paid, the bigger issue than that is the airline’s fiscal assurance to the DGCA. They have lot of outstanding dues to the Airports Authority of India, to companies, to lessors; so it’s not just a question of salaries to the employees.”

Soon after the agreement between the management and the striking employees, Vijay Mallya said in a tweet: “All Kingfisher team members back at work and fully supportive. I sincerely thank all of them for their faith and continuing commitment.”


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