Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines, which has declared a lockout till Friday, has asked all its employees, striking over non-payment of salaries, to return to work to resume flight operations soon.
In a letter to employees, Kingfisher chief executive officer Sanjay Aggarwal said, "Unless we can keep our operations going, we will not be able to rectify the situation. We need you to help us to have any chance of getting back to normalcy. . . . Without all of you, without exception, coming back to work, we will have no way forward."
Observing that aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued a show cause notice due to disruptions causing inconvenience to travelling public, he said, "We have currently announced suspension of operations until October 12 and sincerely hope that we will able to present a viable plan to DGCA to allow us to resume operations on October 13."
On unpaid salaries, he said, "Given the pain that all of you and your families have gone through over the last year due to delay in payment of salaries, we can only tell you in utmost sincerity that this situation pains us immensely too."
The letter, which gave no concrete assurance as to when the dues would be paid, came a day after Kingfisher pilots, engineers and other staff staged a demonstration here to demand early payment of seven month dues. They blamed the management for "not listening to our problems. We are ready to talk but have not received any response".
Maintaining that the management was working to get fresh investment 'in the next few months', the Kingfisher CEO said no potential investor would put money in an airline that was not operational and neither would passengers return till operations commenced.
"This does not mean we will not remit salaries during these months," Aggarwal said.
Maintaining that the management was 'in constant dialogue' with staffers on strike to arrive at a viable solution", he said there were 'positive developments that give us confidence in our future plans. The revenue authorities have lifted the freeze on some of our accounts that will allow access to some of our bank accounts immediately.
"The Consortium of Banks are equally anxious to see us resume operations so that we can restore operations to work towards our future."
After government's decision to allow foreign direct investment by foreign airlines, "dialogue with potential investors has gathered momentum.
"Even non-strategic investors are showing interest in investing in Kingfisher Airlines, which is a good sign," he claimed.
The DGCA issued the show-cause notice to the Vijay Mallya-owned carrier asking why its flying license should not be suspended or cancelled as it had grounded its entire fleet and had failed to offer safe, efficient and reliable service.
It has given the airline 15 days to reply.