Employee unrest hits flights at India's Kingfisher Airlines

Mon Oct 1, 2012 8:04am EDT
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By Anurag Kotoky

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Labour unrest forced India's ailing Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KING.NS: Quote) to cancel flights on Monday, the latest blow for a carrier scrambling to find an investor and sending its shares down by their daily limit of 5 percent.

Kingfisher said it was cancelling several flights, but a top official at the aviation regulator told Reuters that no Kingfisher flights were operating as of midday on Monday.

Kingfisher, controlled by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, had already grounded most of its fleet as of earlier this year.

"A section of employees of Kingfisher Airlines has not been reporting for work over the last fortnight and over the past two days, they have been threatening and even manhandling the other employees who are reporting for work," Kingfisher spokesman Prakash Mirpuri said in a statement on Monday.

All Kingfisher flights scheduled to depart from the Delhi airport until 4:30 p.m. (1100 GMT) had been cancelled, the airport's website showed.

"We are considering, examining the whole situation," Arun Mishra, the Director General of Civil Aviation, told Reuters.

Under Indian rules, an airline needs to operate at least five planes in order to maintain its license.

Kingfisher, which has been months behind on salary payments, has seen its operations disrupted several times by fed-up employees, although until the recent incident there had not apparently been any reports of violence.   Continued...

People are silhouetted as Kingfisher Airlines' aircrafts are seen parked at an airport in New Delhi October 1, 2012. Ailing Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines will not be allowed to fly if safety rules are not followed, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, after labour unrest forced the carrier to cancel its flights on Monday. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal