Kingfisher Airline’s operations throughout the country were affected on Wednesday after sections of pilots and engineers struck work protesting non-payment of salaries for the past seven months.

Sources told Business Line that over 30 flights were cancelled on Wednesday. The airline currently has a schedule of close to 100 flights a day, down from over 400 in January.

The agitation is likely to continue for some time with employees refusing to accept the management stand that payment of March salaries will start by August 13. “The agitation continues as such promises have been made previously,” a senior pilot said.

On Wednesday, sources claim that the airline informed Delhi airport that at least 11 departures and arrivals planned with the small ATR aircraft were cancelled for the day. The only ATR service which operated from Delhi was to Jalandhar, sources said.

The airline has cited shortage of cockpit crew for not operating these flights. The Delhi airport Web site said that flights to Shimla, Chandigarh and Kullu were cancelled.

Mumbai saw the cancellation of nine flights.

Several flights that were to be operated with the larger Airbus aircraft were combined as passenger demand was low, sources said. Airline officials were neither available to comment on Kingfisher operations, nor on when the salaries will be paid.

On Wednesday, the airline’s stock closed at a new low of Rs 8.63 on the BSE.

Cheque bounce case

Meanwhile, the next hearing for the cheque bounce case for KFA is on Thursday in Mumbai. The Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in Mumbai had issued summons to the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the near-bankrupt airlines to be present before it after cheques issued to Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) bounced.

The total value of cheques is Rs 15 crore and relates to parking, landing and other services during 2011. KFA’s operations may be suspended if it fails to clear the dues. Sources in the MIAL said that the airline has an outstanding amount of over Rs 30 crore to Mumbai airport.

The Delhi International Airport Ltd had also filed a case for cheque bouncing for Rs 3 crore.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

nivedita.ganguly@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 8, 2012)
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