Kingfisher employees get their salaries and get back on the job!

I initially thought that Kingfisher was not going to get out of the latest mess they got themselves in, but looks like finally the airline owner Vijay Mallya is more than eager to get it back on track. He was initially missing in action, and got branded an absconder by the media because he just wouldn’t come back to India on the next day of the crisis brewing into a lockout and grounding of the airline.

However, when they seriously promised the 7-months unpaid employees 3 months salary within a month, like most of India, I believed this to be a hogwash so that Mr. Mallya did not have to face an embarrassment at the Indian Grand Prix, the Indian race on the F1 calendar. Employees had threatened to show up and protest at the venue, after all.

Kingfisher’s offer to the employees was to pay up 3 months of salaries in a deferred plan, where they got 1-month pay rightaway (within 24 hours), another month pay within 7 days (which was credited today, as per someone inside the airline who confirmed this), and a third month of pay before November 13. Another 3 months of pay would be paid when the airline is recapitalised. More money is promised to come their way before Christmas. However, this cashflow should help the employees who have had to resort to borrowing from friends and family to survive the day. Employees have already come back to work, while the airline is still grounded since their license was suspended by the Indian regulator.

Now, everyone has swung into action trying to recover their money, including Indian airports, revenue authorities, etc. who have money on the table. However, the banks, which have about 1.5 billion $ of equity and debt in the airline, are still trying to figure their way into recovering their money. Their exposure is clearly much larger than that of the others.

However, Vijay Mallya seems determined to revive the airline, so he has been making the rounds of the regulator trying to talk them into reinstate the license so that they could fly again. He is even okay with letting go off some of his money-spinning alcohol empire to keep this airline going. He has gone on record to state that he will use the Kingfisher group’s funds to revive the airline, though nobody has answers as to how will KFA ensure no more irregularities in schedule and safety. There are news reports stating that he may be able to get it off the ground again by end of November 2012.

More news when it happens. In the meanwhile I am just happy that Kingfisher employees are finally getting paid! And if it gets off the air again, they should consider calling themselves the Phoenix airlines rather than Kingfisher this time around!!

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