Trying to scotch speculation of a shut down,cash-strapped Kingfisher today said it was in talks with tax authorities to get the accounts of the airlines un-frozen and asked its pilots,skipping flying duties,to fall in line.
But pilots protesting delay in payment of salaries claimed that Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal had warned them during a meeting on Thursday that the extreme step could be resorted to,indicating the airlines’ closure,if they don’t resume duties.
“Sanjay Aggarwal met with a group of pilots to appeal to them not to stay away from flying duties which would potentially affect the operating schedule. At no time was there any suggestion that Kingfisher Airlines would shut down,” a statement by Prakash Mirpuri,vice president,corporate communications of the airlines,said.
“We are trying our very best to cooperate with the tax authorities and get our accounts un-frozen at the earliest so that normalcy could be restored,employee salaries paid and further aircraft recoveries started,” he said.
A different version of the meeting was given by the pilots.
“If you want to fly,you fly and if you dont want to fly,you are free to do so. Otherwise,we will have to think of the extreme option (of completely closing),” the pilots quoted Aggarwal as having told them.
Aggarwal also told the delegation he cannot commit anything before March 10,a pilot,who was part of the delegation,said.
The development comes on the heels of the service tax department freezing as many as 40 bank accounts of Kingfisher Airlines for non-payment of dues to the tune of Rs 40 crore.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has indicated that flight license could be temporarily suspended,instead of being cancelled,to give the airline a chance to resume operations once it sorts out its problems.
The aviation regulater DGCA has already warned Kingfisher that its financial problems should not impinge on safety.