The financially strained Kingfisher Airlines declared a partial lockout after it was forced to stop flying altogether today, as its engineers and pilots decided to stay away from work due to non-payment of their salaries since March.
As no Kingfisher flights took off across the country (nearly 80 were scheduled to), Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh threatened the airline with closure if something was found amiss on the safety front.
The airline has decided flight operations would be suspended for three days, until October 4. In a statement, it said, “Following a series of protracted and unabated incidents of violence, criminal intimidation, assault, wrongful restraint and other illegal acts, including refraining from attending work, by a small section of recalcitrant employees, the management has been forced to declare a partial lockout at the airline, effective immediately. With the safety of passengers in mind, the company is left with no other option but to take firm and decisive steps.”
Speaking to reporters, the aviation minister said: “This is the first time that a safety issue has come up; earlier there were issues about salaries. Till the certified engineers don't certify the air-worthiness of Kingfisher aircraft, the DGCA won’t allow them to fly.”