Kingfisher Airlines: To fly or not to fly

Rd. Alexander

Vijay Mallya, the owner of the ‘King of crisis’ Kingfisher Airlines, must be breathing a sigh of relief now that the employees of the airlines have called off their month-long strike and have resumed work. Those striking days were indeed ‘bad times’ for the ‘King of good times’.

So, what really went wrong with the airline considered to be one of the best private airlines in the country?

The management, some would say, while others will point fingers at the owner, Vijay Mallya and his lavish lifestyle for the failure of the airline. Indeed, questions have arisen on whether the ‘former’ billionaire was to be blamed for the crisis. But that is for the management and the staff to decide, and resolve the same so that no such incidents happen in the future.

And while the airline including the staff has been badly affected by the row, perhaps it is the common man - the travellers - who have suffered the most.

Though the crisis at Kingfisher had been on for some time, it was earlier this year that the issue began to take an ugly turn. In the month of March-April, employees of the airlines went on a strike over non-payment of their salaries and this had badly affected flight schedules. And even after the strike was called off, it resurfaced in August, and then September. However, it was in October when the airlines declared a lockout that led to over hundred flights been cancelled leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports across the country.

The suspensions of the flights only added to the woes of the airline which is facing about Rs 8,000 crore deficit and counting.

But the real question here is, should the passengers be the ones suffering because of a disagreement between the management and employees of the Kingfisher Airlines? Should the travel plans of passengers be put at risk just because the airline could not come to terms with the employees? Surely, there were passengers on leisure trips as well as professional trips and these people had to suffer with the flights being cancelled and thus missing their ‘schedules’.

It is really hard to imagine the so-called ‘King of Good Times’ giving a real ‘bad times’ to its passengers across the country. And, is the Kingfisher Airlines still regarded as the best private airline in the country? Not really.

Now that the strike has been called off and work has resumed, many flyers will be left questioning themselves if they should ever risk flying Kingfisher again. An online poll on showed that a good chunk of the voters, 45 percent to be precise, would not ever risk flying on Kingfisher again. Perhaps, they have learnt their lessons the hard way and would not want to take a risk again.

While work has resumed, one is also not sure if the airline would ever function uninterrupted again considering that it’s running in losses and what if dues of employees are not paid again? Another strike and flights cancelled? 2012 has seen a lot of interrupted flights across the country, not only of Kingfisher Airlines but also of Air India when its pilots went on a record 58-day-long strike earlier this year.

Perhaps, Vijay Mallya has also learnt the hard way that exposing wealth does no good for the company, the airlines or the passengers.

"I have learnt the hard way that in India wealth should not be displayed,” Mallya had tweeted post the crisis of the airlines. Moreover, with the ‘bad times’ in his aviation, he also slipped out of the billionaire list in Forbes rich list with a net worth of USD 800 million from an earlier USD 1.1 billion.

Only if he had ‘exposed’ his wealth for the airline and the passengers and not for a lavish lifestyle and unnecessary calendar girls, the ‘King of Good Times’ would definitely have given one of the ‘greatest times’ to it employees and passengers. But now that the damage is done and repair work is underway, passengers would definitely question themselves if they should risk flying Kingfisher ever again...