Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kingfisher mess: 100 pilots quit, flights cancelled

New Delhi: Kingfisher Airlines is going through troubled times as over 100 pilots have quit after they were not paid their salaries even as the company cancelled over 80 flights in the last two days. The cancellation of 80 flights in the past couple of days left thousands of passengers in the lurch prompting the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to demand an explanation from Kingfisher.

The mass resignation by the pilots took place because they are yet to get their salary for the month of October. The cash-strapped airline claimed that it had to drop flights as the company were trying to reconfigure its aircraft.

There was chaos at several airports after passengers complained that they were not intimated about the Kingfisher cancellations. Many inconvenienced passengers had to rebook themselves on other airlines paying a premium of up to 20 per cent.
The mass resignation by the pilots took place because they are yet to get their salary for the month of October.

As a result of the cancellations, most domestic flights and some international ones will now remain cancelled till November 19.

The DGCA issued a notice to Kingfisher under rule 140 (a) of the aircraft rules for not taking prior approval before cancelling flights. In the notice, the DGCA asked the airline to show cause why it had not taken the regulator's prior approval to curtail its flight schedules as is required by this rule.

Under it, an airline has to obtain DGCA's concurrence before starting a new route or discontinuing a flight at least a week before taking such a step.

The DGCA also asked the Vijay Mallya-owned carrier on what steps it has taken so far to take care of the passengers booked in the flights cancelled in terms of returning their airfares, accommodating them in their alternate flights or providing them alternate modes of transportation.

Aviation sources said the airline has grounded eight of its leased turboprop ATR aircraft. Airport operators, too, are putting pressure on the airline to clear their dues relating to airport and other charges.

Three oil companies -- HPCL, IOC and BPCL, have stopped granting credit to Kingfisher for lifting jet fuel and put it on a cash-and-carry payment mode even as Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Agarwal said that the situation was much better now.

The oil companies allege that Kingfisher owes them almost Rs 200 crore in dues.

Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs 1027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of over Rs 7057 crore.

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