The fear of suspension of licence looms on Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), which today sought more time to send its reply to a showcause notice it was served by the aviation regulator on October 5. It has extended its lockout till October 23.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is likely to take a call in a day or two on whether to grant the crisis-ridden carrier more time or suspend its licence.
The airline, which had suspended operations early this month, sent a three-page letter to DGCA, seeking more time and a personal hearing to explain its stand on the showcause notice.
A senior DGCA official said: “The suspension of KFA licence is likely, as DGCA has not received any convincing operational plan from KFA. In fact, it is seeking more time to reply to the showcause notice.”
Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra confirmed this to Business Standard. “The letter does not give concrete details of the airline’s business plans and merely outlines the labour problems and efforts made to resolve it. It also says it is holding talks with foreign airlines for foreign direct investment (FDI). I am examining it.”
Making it clear there will be no compromise on safety of aircraft operations, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said the airline will lose its licence if it does not satisfactorily address DGCA’s concerns.
In a statement, Kingfisher spokesperson Prakash Mirpuri said: “We had a meeting with employee representatives on October 17 and are hopeful of reaching a common ground when we meet again next week. Currently, we see operations resuming on November 6, subject to our plan being reviewed and approved by DGCA.”
He said the airline had responded to the DGCA notice and was preparing to restart operations from November 6, factoring in the time required for operational readiness.
The striking employees are said to be divided on whether or not to press for seven months’ salary. “A section of employees feels their fortunes are tied with the airline. The management, too, is trying to impress upon the junior staff and technicians that they would get no jobs elsewhere if Kingfisher shut. However, there are others who say the possibility of the airline getting recapitalised soon is dim; so they should not give up their demand for a firm commitment on payment,” a KFA employee said.
The management has agreed to pay a month’s salary but has given no assurance on the backlog.
Employee representatives had met Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Aggarwal and other senior management representatives on Wednesday but the meeting failed to resolve the issue.