Ailing Kingfisher Airlines has extended its lockout till the next weekend, apparently after failing to convince its striking staffers, protesting delay in salaries, to return to work.
Airline sources said the airline management, in an internal mail, has said that due to operational reasons, all flights across its network would be cancelled till October 20.
The mail came a day after Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal appealed to all employees, striking over non-payment of salaries for seven months, to return to work and resume flight operations soon. The employees are insisting that the salaries be paid first before they resume duty.
With all its flights cancelled since the lockout declared on October 4, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) earlier asked liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned carrier to stop selling tickets following reports that it had started accepting bookings last week before ending its lockout.
Kingfisher had declared a lockout on September 28 till October 4 following the strike, cancelling its entire flight schedule, and extended it till October 12 later. This has now been extended till October 20.
On October 5, DGCA issued a show-cause notice to Kingfisher asking why its flying license should not be suspended or cancelled as it had grounded its entire fleet and failed to offer safe, efficient and reliable service. It has given the airline 15 days to reply.
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has also said the airline would have to submit a concrete plan to DGCA on safety and salary payments, before it is allowed to resume flights.
Kingfisher has been saddled with a loss of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) and a debt burden of another over Rs 7,000 crore (Rs 70 billion), a large part of which it has not serviced since January.