Thursday, April 05, 2012

Kingfisher Airlines junior staff gets a month's salary

After a long wait of four months, a section of employees of crisis-ridden Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) on Wednesday received part of their pending salaries .

"Some of the junior staff have finally been paid (their dues). But they have received only one-month basic salary," an airline staffer said.

The payment comes following Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya's assurance to the employees on Monday that their dues would be paid in a staggered manner by April 10.

On Monday, a section of KFA employees, mainly pilots, engineers and cabin crew staff, had threatened to strike work if the management of the private carrier did not pay their dues by Tuesday evening. They later relented following a late night meeting with Mallya.

Appealing to the agitated employees not to strike work, Mallya reiterated his promise of clearing the salary dues of junior staff, including those involved in ground handling and security, by April 4 and of pilots and engineers by April 10.

The airline had earlier said it could not pay salaries to employees as its bank accounts had been frozen.

Since November, the Service and Income Tax departments have frozen as many as 40 bank accounts of the airline for non-payment of these levies. While it owes Rs.76 crore to the Service Tax department, the airline has to pay nearly Rs.60 crore to the I-T department in TDS arrears.

The crisis-ridden carrier was operating a curtailed summer schedule of about 100 daily flights with 16 planes, terming it as a "holding pattern" being followed till the company got re-capitalised.

As part of this plan, Kingfisher has closed down several stations, including the major metros of Kolkata and Hyderabad, and asked almost half of its staff to stay at home while being in the company rolls.

Kingfisher has massively cut down its operations, including shutting down many domestic sectors and completely discontinuing international operations. From 400 flights a day before the crisis last November, it is operating just about 100 flights now.

The airline, which has a debt of USD 1.3 billion, is under pressure from its lenders to inject fresh equity.

The debt-laden carrier terminated operations to 28 of its 56 destinations, including Hyderabad and Kolkata, over the past few days and asked about 40-50 per cent of its staff to stay at home till further orders.

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