Kingfisher: its not over yet?

My previous coverage of the Kingfisher Airlines and disruptions

Kingfisher Airlines could just have been that lucky child which has been pulling off a lucky streak for the longest time. I am sure you’ve already read quite a bit on its current disruption, where unpaid employees have caused industrial action, which has been quoted as a reason by the management to ground all flights till October 4. While they may have had their reasons to not pay salaries for 6 months, I still don’t appreciate the management calling their employees’ actions Illegal, while not commenting on their own where they have not paid salaries for half a year (See press release here)

The airline management, which was holidaying away, was summoned to Delhi today to meet the civil aviation regulator of India, DGCA, and not surprisingly, they had to fly another carrier, Indigo, to make it to there, as per a highly-regarded aviation journalist on Twitter.

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Two developments have taken place today, the meeting with the regulator went off, with the regulator not being impressed with Kingfisher Airlines’ current stance, and have asked for a full review of the situation with the regulator before the airline can start operations again. Here is what the media is reporting:

Troubled Kingfisher Airlines Ltd has told the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that it was hopeful of lifting its temporary lockout and resuming operations on Friday, and would soon pay its employees their pending salaries, but the aviation regulator didn’t seem impressed.

“I am not satisfied,” director general Arun Mishra said in a phone interview after meeting Kingfisher Airlines chief executive officer Sanjay Aggarwal on Tuesday, a national holiday for the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi when all government offices were shut. “That’s why they have to come back to us before they start operations.”

However, the regulator also clarified that this airline is not losing its license anytime soon. The condition to get and retain an AOC in India is to have 5 airworthy planes, at least. Here is the response of the regulator as per the press:

At the same time, there is no risk of the Vijay Mallya-controlled airline losing its licence, Mishra indicated, rejecting a comparison of Kingfisher with MDLR, a carrier that had its licence revoked when the number of aircraft in its fleet fell below the mandatory five.

In the meanwhile, KFA stated again that if their bank accounts got defrozen, they will pay the staff with the amounts in those accounts.

So, is this endgame or not, we do not know. While we sure hope this resolves amicably for the employees and everyone concerned, we don’t know what is up the sleeve of the owner who is playing the foreign airline investment card for so long, if he is going to get that investment ever, or is he just buying time to avoid the invoking of all the personal guarantees which he has given for the loans.

Watch this space…

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