Mumbai(PTI): Several pilots and staff of Kingfisher Airlines today failed to report for duty to protest delays in salaries leading to cancellation of at least ten flights notwithstanding promises by its promoter Vijay Mallya to start making these payments from Wednesday.
Employees of the cash-strapped carrier, who have not been paid since last December, put the airline on notice to pay two months’ salaries and dues by 8 PM tomorrow and clear the remaining dues by April 20.
The employees held day-long discussions with top Kingfisher officials including Executive Vice President Hitesh Patel at a Mumbai hotel.
As some pilots, engineers, cabin crew and other staffers did not report for work, about ten flights from Mumbai and Delhi were cancelled, airline sources said.
Facing heat from restive employees, Mallya, in his letter to the staff yesterday, admitted that the salaries were “seriously overdue” and promised to pay their salaries and other dues in a staggered manner starting April 4.
The employees were informed that tax authorities, which had frozen 40 bank accounts last December, had unfrozen them on Saturday.
Ignoring the assurances, the employees resorted to the protest action which led the airline management to hold talks with them in Mumbai to resolve the situation.
In his letter, Mallya said “the formalities of un- freezing our bank accounts was completed on March 31 following our payment of Rs 44 crore to the Income Tax and Rs 20 crore to the Service Tax authorities.
“My only focus now is to start paying your seriously overdue salaries. All junior staff will be paid before the Easter that is on April 4th. All pilots and engineers will be paid on April 9th and April 10th.”
Mallya said payments had to be staggered due to the three bank holidays this week on April 2, 5 and 6.
The flights cancelled from Delhi included those to Dehradun, Shimla and Chandigarh, while those from Mumbai to Bhuj and Jamnagar were also cancelled.