Kingfisher cancels 50 flights as unpaid pilots stay away

Kingfisher Airlines sank into deeper trouble on Monday, being forced to cancel 50 flights – more than a fourth of what it now operates – as pilots and staffers, unpaid for months, stayed away from work.

Around 60 per cent of Kingfisher's 500 pilots did not report to duty; and threatened to stay away until Mallya personally clarified on salary payments.

A statement issued by Kingfisher said, "Kingfisher operated 145 flights (out of its highly truncated daily schedule of almost 200 flights) ... all guests were notified in advance and preparations for ensuring that we operate at least 80 per cent of our schedule were made."

The statement blamed the delay in paying salaries on freezing of Kingfisher's accounts by the tax authorities.

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ruled out any immediate action against the troubled private carrier. Kingfisher Airlines has not paid salaries to its pilots since December, in spite of the aviation regulator's direction to settle all salary dues by the end of February.