Mumbai: The state-run Airports Authority of India, or AAI, will not allow Vijay Mallya -controlled Kingfisher Airlines Ltd to use airport facilities, even to allow a plane to land or take off, until the outstanding dues are cleared, according to two top AAI officials.
AAI is also examining the legal aspects of impounding the aircraft of Kingfisher Airlines including the private jet—Airbus Corporate Jet—largely used by airline chairman Vijay Mallya.
Kingfisher Airlines owes nearly Rs.250 crore to AAI.
“As we are examining the legal options to impound aircraft of Kingfisher Airlines, we have decided not to allow the carrier to use airport facilities in any form—be it to land or to fly out,” said an AAI official, requesting anonymity.
This would mean Kingfisher Airlines will have to come up with additional funds to resume flying even if striking employees return to work, and assuming it successfully gets its suspension of air operating licence revoked.
“Mallya may use another private jet to land in India for the Formula One race this weekend; he can also come with other high-profile executives who are flying to India for the event,” a senior airline official said, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, most of the employees are expected to resume work on Friday following a new formula offered by the airline’s management to clear outstanding salary dues.
“We will be meeting directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) next week to submit a comprehensive plan. We will be starting the airline slow and steady,” said a second airline executive.
Apparently succumbing to pressure from its employees demanding clearance of salary dues, Kingfisher management on Wednesday said it would expedite payment of October salary ahead of Christmas and claimed that “most” of them had agreed to resume work from Friday.
In a fresh letter to the striking staffers, airline chief executive officer Sanjay Aggarwal said, “We have received several requests asking for status of salary for the duration of partial lock-out period and asking for salary in December 2012 to be paid one week earlier than 31 December 2012.
“I am pleased to confirm that, as a goodwill gesture, the company will pay full October salary to all employees and we commit to paying the same prior to Christmas 2012.”
Counter to the employees’ claims that a majority of them were opposed to the offer made by him earlier, Aggarwal claimed that “most” of them had sent their confirmation to resume duty from 26 October. “We request the rest of you to send your acceptance at the earliest,” he said.
When contacted by Press Trust of India, Aggarwal refused to divulge the source of cash flow for the airline to manage the salary payment.
The employees have been on strike since 29 September demanding payment of salary dues since March this year.
The strike had led to the company declaring a lock-out from 1 October, which was followed by the suspension of their scheduled operator’s permit by aviation regulator DGCA.
The airline employees, who held meetings in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, had on Tuesday rejected the offer of payment of three months’ salaries in a staggered manner as part payment of dues and insisted that it should be paid in lump sum.
However, its Mumbai-based pilots had said they were ready to accept the deal offered by the management as a condition to resume work. Salaries have been pending for seven months.
Aggarwal had on Tuesday sent out emails to individual employees offering them three months salary by Diwali in mid-November, saying if they accepted the offer, they should send an acceptance note and resume work from Friday, which was objected to by the protesters.
(PTI contributed to this story)