Kingfisher Airlines has paid the salary for March to a handful of employees, with no salaries sanctioned after that month.
: In an unprecedented occurrence, passengers flying or booked on Kingfisher flights were stuck in aircraft and airports across the country on Sunday evening when the airline's engineers, unpaid for months, went on a flash strike.
Passengers landing even in big metros like Delhi or Mumbai suffered the same fate as the airline engineers did not put chocks on aircraft tyres as a result of which aerobridges could not be attached and passengers were stuck inside the aircraft. Similar things happened at other airports with step ladders not being attached to the airline's planes to allow deboarding, also leaving harrowed Kingfisher passengers waiting to board their flights stuck at airports.
Kingfisher has paid the salary for March to a handful of employees, with no salaries sanctioned after that month.
In what can compound the airline's woes, its pilots are also learnt to be planning to stop flying from next Friday. But Sunday's sudden strike left flyers aghast with no option but to be stranded in their respective locations.
The anger in the Kingfisher ranks is peaking as employees fear that aviation authorities are not heeding their constant refrain that it is unsafe for an airline to keep making its people work without pay.
"It is very surprising the way aviation authorities are turning a blind eye to the situation. Will they act only after some mishap takes place? One DGCA chief has already lost his job for trying to act against Kingfisher and now no aviation authority dares to do anything," said an angry pilot, requesting anonymity.
The aviation ministry's stance has been that it cannot shut down an airline simply because it has not paid its employees for months and claims that the DGCA will ensure safety on whatever number of aircraft Kingfisher chooses to fly.
It says by that logic, it would first have to shut down Air India. "If employees are unpaid for months, they have the option of refusing to work or quitting and take legal recourse against the airline management. But if you are coming to work then you cannot suddenly go on strike and keep passengers locked inside aircraft. Instructions have been issued to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore airports to be prepared to handle such situations from Monday," said a senior official.
Senior aviation ministry officials say they are not acting against the airline as its management possibly wants them to shut it down.