Kingfisher Airline pilots may strike work

If December salaries are not paid by Jan 31 as promised


Sweta Ranjan | January 27, 2012

Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) may soon face a strike by its pilots. More than 200 pilots of the airline have threatened to go on a strike if the salary for the month of December is not paid before the month end, as promised.

The cash-strapped carrier, promoted by Vijay Mallya, has not been able to pay the salaries to its employees since December 2011. Mallya had earlier committed to its employees that the salaries would be paid before January.

An email sent by the pilots group to CEO Sanjay Agarwal and EVP (operations and engineering) Hitesh Patel says, "We may not be available for flying duties in case our dues are not cleared in time."

"If the chairman's words are not implemented, we would be apprehensive about getting our December 20011 salary by January 31, 2012,” the email noted.

On January 16 Mallya had made a commitment to all employees that the salary for November would be given within a few days but employees got their salaries only after a month. 

The KFA pilots’ fraternity is also unhappy due to the non-payment of salaries during the festive season. "Employees are not in tune with the festive mood as non-payment of our salaries has hit us hard. We should get our salary before we can join in the celebrations with the expected fervour and zest,” they said in the email.

The airline currently has about 550 pilots. Due to the loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and outstanding debt of Rs 6,419 crore it is finding it hard to pay salaries to its employees.

Weeks after the aviation regulator, directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA), warned KFA not to compromise on aviation safety Mallya discussed the financial and operational recovery plan of the cash-strapped airline with DGCA top brass on Wednesday.

If the pilots refuse to take off the flight after January due to nonpayment of salaries it could also put at risk Kingfisher's plan become a member of One World Alliance (a group of many global airlines). The One World Alliance serves more than 850 airports in nearly 150 countries and includes American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. The One World Alliance was established in 1998 by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. It includes 12 airlines and 20 affiliated carriers.



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