Nov 16, 2012, 10.38 AM | Source: PTI
Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines, which is yet to pay part dues to its employees, has sought more time to submit a comprehensive revival plan to the aviation regulator DGCA.
In the letter, the liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned airline is understood to have said it was holding discussions with all stakeholders, including the Airports Authority of India, and its lenders as it had earlier promised to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The letter came a day after its employees threatened to chalk out an action plan next week if they did not receive their May salaries by November 17. Employees' sources said they had not received the dues even today.
The communication also came in the backdrop of airport operators asking the DGCA to keep on hold the renewal of Kingfisher's license until their dues are cleared. While no timeframe has been set for the debt-ridden airline to submit a comprehensive financial and operational revival plan, its flying license or scheduled operator's permit (SOP), which is suspended now, is slated to expire in any case on December 31 this year.
DGCA had suspended Kingfisher's SOP on October 19 till further orders after a lockout and its failure to come up with a viable plan of financial and operational revival. It had charged the airline with failing to run "safe, efficient and reliable operations." The SOP suspension came after a lockout on October 1 following a strike by the employees from September 30 demanding payment of overdue salaries. Kingfisher's operations have been grounded since then.
The lockout was lifted on October 25 after the employees called off the strike following an assurance by Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal that three months dues would be cleared in a staggered manner before Diwali. The management had brokered peace with the striking employees on the eve of the Indian Grand Prix late last month in Greater Noida, in which Mallya was involved. The employees had threatened to disrupt the premier motor racing event.
The bankers of Kingfisher have also warned the airline to arrange for more capital by November 30, though Mallya has denied any deadline issued by the lenders to his company. Kingfisher Airlines has accumulated losses of about Rs 9,000 crore as on September 30 due to huge restructuring costs, prior-period tax payments, costs related to its heavy debt burden of about Rs 8,000 crore and disrupted operations.