Mumbai/New Delhi: Kingfisher Airlines Monday offered its striking employees staggered payment of three months' salary dues before Diwali in mid-November in a bid to get them back to work but a section of employees rejected the offer prolonging the 23-day impasse.
After talks between the two sides in Mumbai which lasted over four hours, airline CEO Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters, "We had a fruitful discussion. We have given time to the employees to consider the proposal that we will clear three months' salary dues by Diwali (November 13)." The employees, including pilots and engineers, have not been paid for the last seven months.
Agarwal also said the lockout, which is till Tuesday, is being extended till normalcy is restored. The licence of the Vijay Mallya-owned carrier was suspended on Saturday.
Under the deal offered by the management, the salary dues of one month would be paid in 24 hours, another month's instalment in seven days and the third instalment before Diwali on November 13, airline sources said, adding that efforts would be made to clear fourth instalment by December.
The sources also said the management is likely to send out an e-mail promising to clear their dues gradually and appealing to them to return to work.
But the standoff showed no signs of easing with a section of its Delhi-based employees outrightly rejecting the management's offer demanding four months' salaries in a couple of days. Another section said it will revert back by Thursday.
"We reject the offer as we don't believe in CEO Sanjay Aggarwal and Executive Vice President Hitesh Patel. We want a meeting with Vijay Mallya. Where is he?
The management has made a similar committment in the past too", said Subhash Chandra Mishra of the Engineering department in Delhi. He also questioned the silence of Mallya.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh meanwhile said it could be difficult for Kingfisher to fly again.
"It will be very difficult," he told a TV channel when asked whether realistically he expected the private carrier to resume operations.
But Aggarwal said the airline would "very shortly" submit a comprehensive and detailed revival plan to aviation regulator DGCA for its approval.
The operations of Kingfisher remained disrupted since September 30, first due to a strike by its engineers and pilots, then by the lockout declared by the management which was followed by suspension of its flying permit by DGCA.