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Kingfisher pilots report sick, Delhi flights hit

Last updated on: May 10, 2012 16:54 IST

Kingfisher pilots report sick, Delhi flights hit

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Kingfisher Airlines faced fresh turbulence on Thursday when a section of its pilots in Delhi reported sick leading to cancellation of 15 flights, adding to the woes of passengers hit by the stir by Air India pilots.

The Vijay Mallya-owned carrier could face more trouble as its Mumbai-based pilots have also decided not to fly from tonight, sources in the airline said in Mumbai.

The pilots of the cash-strapped airline are protesting the "backtracking" by the management on its "assurance" of remitting their January salaries from May 9.

The cancelled services from Delhi include flights to Shimla, Dehradun, Dharamshala and Jaipur-routes operated by turboprop aircraft.

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Image: A bomb squad vehicle stands next to a Kingfisher flight at Chattrapati Shivaji airport in Mumbai.
Photographs: Reuters.

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"The management had said that it would start giving January salaries from May 9 onwards. However, it has backtracked on its commitment," Kingfisher sources told PTI.

"So the Delhi-based pilots decided to report sick from today at a meeting last night," the sources said. The Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya had "assured" the staff in his May 5 communication to them that their January salaries will be remitted from May 9.

Last month also, Kingfisher management had said it would pay employees' December salaries between April 4 and April 9 in a phased manner, but some of the employees received their salaries as late as around April 24, the sources said.

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Photographs: Reuters.

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A section of the staff including pilots and engineers had last week said they were contemplating moving to the Labour Court to seek its intervention and expedite settlement of their dues.

Kingfisher Airlines has been facing financial troubles for almost a year now. The airline, which never made a profit since its inception in May 2005, reported a net loss of Rs 444.26 crore (Rs 4.44 billion) in the December quarter.

It suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore (Rs 10.27 billion) in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore (Rs 70.57 billion).

Due to the paucity of funds, the air carrier now operates only 110 flights a day with a fleet of 20 aircraft as against 400 flights per day last year with 66 planes.

The airline had a 6.4 per cent market share in March, and was ranked below the budget carrier GoAir, which cornered 7.5 per cent market share in the same period.


Image: Passengers stand at a Kingfisher Airlines reservation office at the domestic airport in Kolkata.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters.

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