Grounded and tethering on verge of bankruptcy Vijay Mallya promoted Kingfisher Airlines has called for a meeting with its engineers and pilots from across its operating bases for what is being seen as a make or break meeting for the struggling debt ridden carrier at its Mumbai headquarters on Monday.
In an email to employees written on Friday company’s executive vice president Hitesh Patel asked one representative each from the engineering and pilot divisions for the meeting the time and venue of which has not been conveyed to the employees till now.
Time is running out for the airline as it has to submit a viable business plan to the civil aviation regulator if it wants to start flights by October 21 as Kingfisher has opened sale of inventor from this date onwards subject to regulatory approval. Unless deadlock with employees over salaries is not resolved the management would fail to stick to that deadline.
Kingfisher employees struck work since October 1 on account of non-payment of dues demanding seven months of unpaid salaries to be cleared before the staff report back to work. The move by the employees forced the airline to declare a partial lockout till October 4 that was subsequently extended twice till October 20 now.
It is learnt that Kingfisher management that till now was handling the crisis and attempting a solution is likely to side step and the meeting will be addressed by daft UB Group top brass and Mallya’s trusted lieutenants like Sammy D.Lalla and Subhash Gupte.
While Lalla, it is said, knows the pulse of employees and has carved most of Mallya’s spirit deals and has spent more than 25 years with UB, Gupte is an experienced old hand who was also an acting chairman and managing director at the state owned Air India. They are likely to convey what Mallya would want to communicate with the employees.
Importantly, Mallya himself has not commented till now on the worst ever crisis faced by the his airline and some say he would only come out in the open once he has figured the future course of the airline which has liabilities of over Rs.15000 crore and has an investor to back him up . Mallya had said he is in discussion with a foreign airline after foreign carriers were allowed to invest in Indian airline companies by a change of regulations last month.