Kingfisher to stay grounded, staff stage protests

Although Kingfisher Airlines has finally got the money to at least partly pay the overdue salaries of its staff, the airline's pilots and engineers are refusing to resume duties, and instead staged protests across the country over non-payment of dues for the last six months. Kingfisher said the lockout which was supposed to end today will continue till 12 October.

The airline's chief executive Sanjay Agarwal was scheduled to meet the agitating employees in Bangalore and Chennai today, but the meetings were cancelled as the employees refused to attend.

Talks between the management and employees in Mumbai and Delhi, held on Wednesday and Thursday respectively were also unsuccessful, with the pilots and engineers refusing to resume duty, saying they would not resume work unless all their dues are cleared.

A group of employees took out a march from Mumbai airport to Kingfisher House on Friday morning. Employees in Delhi plan to hold a candlelight vigil in the evening.

On Thursday, the consortium of banks led by State Bank of India that are the airline's main lenders agreed to release Rs60 crore to the cash-strapped airline after an emergency meeting in Mumbai at SBI Bhawan. The Income Tax department also lifted the freeze on Kingfisher's accounts on Thursday.

But this amount would cover only two months of the overdue salaries. The pilots and engineers have refused to resume work unless they are paid in full, and Kingfisher remains grounded till at least 12 October.