Do or die: Strike deadline inches closer, will Kingfisher pay today?

Rejecting Vijay Mallya's assurances that pending salaries would be paid, Kingfisher Airline'sstaff have threatened to go on strike from tonight if the management fails to clear its dues.

The deadline set by agitating employees will end at 8 pm and it remains to be seen whether Mallya will pay the salaries as promised or whether the pilots and engineers will have no option but to go on strike.

AFP

Mallya promised to clear staff dues and salaries from Wednesday, after the tax authorities unfroze the airline's accounts on Sunday. However Mallya's commitment to resume paying salaries before Easter failed to cut ice with several pilots and staffwho did not report for work, leading to the cancellation of at least 10 flights from Delhi and Mumbai on Monday.

In a letter to his employees, Mallya had promised that the junior staff would be paid before Easter on April 4 and all pilots and engineers would get their salaries on April 9 and April 10. (Read our analysis of Mallya's letter)

Mallya's letter came after the Kingfisher Airlines staff who have not been paid their salaries for the past few months wrote to the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, which is managed by Mallya, urging the players to boycott the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Soon after Mallya's email, the employees wrote back, sayingsuch promises have not been adhered to in the past and that they felt "cheated and deceived".

"We are not currently in a mental state to undertake any duties and doing so would jeopardise the safety of our aircraft and more so ever our valuable guests," an email on behalf of employees said.

The employees want immediate payment of two months salary, and say their salary for March 2012 must be paid by 20 April.

According to a report in CNN IBN Mallya even invited the representative pilots and other staff to his residence on Monday evening in a bid to defuse the crisis. "The meeting went on till late in the night. If the employees' demand isn't met within the deadline, 350 Kingfisher Airline engineers across country are threatening to go on strike and nearly 30 Mumbai-based pilots may follow suit," the report said.

And Kingfisher's woes don't just end here. The plight of the airline also reflected on the bourses on Monday as the stock closed down 8 percent. Even LKP Merchant Financing sold 43.5 lakh shares of debt-laden Kingfisher Airlines for Rs 6.7 crore in an open market transaction for Rs 15.42 a piece, according to data available on the stock exchanges. During the intra-day trade, the stock fell by 9.66 per cent to hit an all-time low of Rs 14.95. LKP Merchant Financing is not listed on the stock exchanges.

But even while the airline's employees or investorsare in no mood to accept Mallya's promise that salaries will be paid by 4 April, there just might be some relief for the airline as the aviation regulator DGCA has shelved its consolidated report on the airline for the time being. However, a surveillance team will continue to inspect every flight to ensure safety is not compromised, reports NDTV.