Govt warns about safety as Kingfisher grounds flights
New Delhi: Debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines was virtually grounded Monday as the passenger carrier cancelled all 50 flights after a section of its employees went on strike leaving thousands stranded.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said certified engineers would inspect whether the airline is adhering to the safety norm set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
He said the carrier will not be allowed to fly if it fails in the safety tests.
"I have asked DGCA to look into the matter. If safety norms are not followed then we will not allowed them (Kingfisher Airlines) to fly," Singh said.
According to a senior DGCA official, Director General Arun Mishra has summoned the airline's chief executive Sanjay Agarwal to give a status report on the airline's functioning.
The development came after the airline failed to keep all its existing 50 flights a day schedule after a section of employees, including engineers, went on a flash strike Sunday, demanding payment of their dues pending since March by Oct 5, 2012.
Aircraft maintenance engineers, whose aircraft airworthiness clearance is mandatory for any flight to take off, struck work Sunday night.
The employees claim that non-payment of salaries has affected their morale and buildup stress levels, that can also affect operational safety.
On its part the company said it is talking to the striking employees and that the management will do everything in restoring operations.
"We are monitoring the situation and continue to engage with this section of employees to see reason as such action is not only detrimental to the company but directly impacts the travelling public," said Prakash Mirpuri, vice president, corporate communications, Kingfisher Airlines.
"Section of employees not reporting to work have been threatening and even manhandling the other employees who are reporting to work as usual," Mirpuri said.
The airline had the lowest market share in August, which stood at 3.2 percent.
According to a report by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), Kinghfisher Airlines may have to shut down operations if USD 600 million cash is not infused in the next two months.
The report estimated Kingfisher Airlines had suffered a total loss of USD 220-USD 260 million in 2012-13. The company reported a net loss of Rs.650.78 crore (USD 117 million) for the quarter ended June 30, 2012.