Resentment grows among Kingfisher employees

Mumbai: Resentment is brewing in a section of Kingfisher Airlines employees over the non-payment of dues despite its chairman Vijay Mallya`s "assurance" of remitting January salaries by May 15. Last month around 200 airlines engineers had struck work over the non-payment of salary.

"The airline has paid January salary to most of its pilots. However, none of the engineers have yet been paid," airlines sources told PTI here. A substantial number of ground staff is also yet to receive their January salaries. "The management intentions are questionable. It seems to be working on `divide and rule` policy by paying to a section of its staff while leaving out other employees," they alleged, adding that it looks as if it has tried to pre-empt any move by the staff to take on the management jointly on the long pending salary dues.

Mallya said in his May 5 communication to the employees that the airline will start remitting January salaries from May 9 onwards. However, then the management failed to deliver its commitment. A section of its pilots started reporting sick leading to cancellation of several flights.

But the striking pilots called-off their agitation after some tough talk by Mallya in his May 10 e-mail communication to the employees, when he vowed to deal with the situation "firmly". He also "assured" employees of paying their salaries by May 15 and said that a "significant" portion of the February salaries would be paid by the month-end. A text message to airlines spokesperson did not yield any response.

The airline, which never made a profit since its inception in May 2005, reported a net loss of Rs 444.26 crore in the December quarter. It suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore. Due to the paucity of funds, it now operates only 110 flights a day with a fleet of 20 aircraft against 400 flights per day last year with 66 planes. The airline had a 5.4 percent market share in April, and ranked below the budget carrier GoAir, which cornered 7.3 percent market share in the same period.