Grounded: Kingfisher aircraft
TALKS on Wednesday (October 17) between striking staff and the management of India’s troubled Kingfisher Airlines failed to reach an agreement to re-start flights, the chief executive said.
A crippling strike by employees who have not received salaries for seven months has forced the airline, which is teetering on the brink of financial collapse, to ground all its planes since October 1.
Kingfisher’s top managers met some striking employees on Wednesday to persuade them to call off their agitation and return to work.
The meeting “made good progress” but more talks will have to be held, Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters. Another meeting is likely next Monday (October 22), he said.
A striking staffer, who attended the meeting but declined to be named, told reporters that the talks were “positive” but added the strike would continue until salaries are paid in full.
Employees have been offered one month’s pay to return to work, but they refused.
Kingfisher said last week that operations would be suspended until October 20. India’s civil aviation regulator has issued a notice asking why its license should not be cancelled, fuelling more doubts about the airline’s future.
The airline, named after the biggest beer brand of its extrovert owner Vijay Mallya, owes billions of dollars in taxes, airport fees and to staff.
Mallya has been desperately scouting for a foreign airline to pump in fresh capital to keep it flying but analysts are doubtful any carrier will want to take an equity stake.
The company was India’s second-largest airline until a year ago but now it has a market share of just 3.2 per cent, the smallest of the country’s carriers.
The airline has drastically reduced its operations in the past year, shutting down international flights completely.
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