The Telegraph
Wednesday , October 3 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt reads Kingfisher riot act

New Delhi, Oct. 2: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today said it would be forced to shut down Kingfisher Airlines if normalcy was not restored within a few days.

Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal and executive vice-president Hitesh Patel met DGCA officials in the capital a day after the airline announced a partial lockout till October 4.

The civil aviation regulator said the carrier posed serious safety threat to passengers and “has caused nothing but problems for those who trusted the airline and bought its tickets”.

“The DGCA has given a full and final warning to the airline as it is tired of its problems that periodically keep popping up. It warned Kingfisher that it would recommend to the civil aviation ministry to cancel its licence,” a senior DGCA official said.

Kingfisher has blamed its engineers and pilots for the lockout even though it has failed to pay salaries to its employees for seven months. They claimed that a small group of employees was hampering normal operations.

“We are hopeful that we will resolve the situation in the next few days. We will take a call on October 4 on resumption of our operations,” Aggarwal said after his meeting with the DGCA.

Aggarwal said the airline would take legal action against the employees who were preventing others from working “with a view to getting flight operations back to normal at the earliest”.

He told the DGCA that salaries would be paid to all in the next four weeks, and the company was in talks with the employees. He said the March salary had been paid to nearly half of the employees and the remaining ones would get it over the “next few days”.

“We have shared the steps, which we are going to take in the next few days with the DGCA. We have explained our position to the regulator. I myself have not got my salary,” Aggarwal said.

The Karnataka high court has offered some respite to Kingfisher by ordering the lifting of the freeze on its accounts by the Central Board of Excise and Customs and the Central Board of Direct Taxes, improving the airline’s finances by Rs 60 crore.

Kingfisher has suffered losses amounting to Rs 8,000 crore and is saddled with a debt burden of over Rs 7,000 crore, which it has not serviced since January.

The carrier has also assured the DGCA that it is in advanced talks with a few Gulf-based airlines and will be able to arrange funds.