New Delhi: Employee discontent at Kingfisher Airlines Ltd reached a new high on Sunday as ground engineers demanding pay beat up an executive, refused to allow passengers to disembark from a plane in Delhi airport for three hours and for 40 minutes at an aircraft in Mumbai, according to three persons aware of the matter.
The debt-laden carrier owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya hasn’t paid salaries for seven months.
“The problem started yesterday (Saturday) when some engineers went on strike. Flights were cancelled. Today, some engineers got worked up after they heard a section of pilots got March salaries. So they said enough is enough. They refused to put aerobridges in Mumbai and passengers were left inside the aircraft,” said one of the persons.
All Kingfisher flights for the week are likely to be cancelled as ground engineers want four months of salary upfront, said the second person. Aircraft are coming to the base and then being grounded as engineers wouldn’t sign off on the flight, he said. Both persons declined to be named.
“A management engineer was beaten up in Delhi and locked in a room. It’s very unsafe. It’s reached the same level as Maruti’s Manesar plant,” said the second person.
A Kingfisher spokesman did not respond to phone calls.
At least eight Kingfisher flights to or from Delhi were marked cancelled for Sunday on the airport operator’s website.
A third person with knowledge of the subject said that in Mumbai, the stand-off started around 5pm when engineers refused to cooperate with pilots. “Things escalated after that,” this person said, also asking not to be named.
A Mumbai airport spokesman said there were 11 cancellations in Mumbai. One flight was delayed.
Kingfisher Airlines had total debt of Rs.5,695 crore as on 31 March and accumulated losses of Rs.7,262 crore from fiscal year 2008-09 till June 2012.
Kignfisher needs $600 million for a turnaround, according to CAPA , or the Centre for Asia Pacific for Aviation.