In more trouble for Kingfisher Airlines, aviation regulator DGCA today issued a show-cause notice asking why its flying license should not be suspended or cancelled as it had grounded its entire fleet and failed to offer safe and reliable service.
With the liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned airline having declared a lockout till October 12, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued the notice to the crisis-ridden carrier, giving it 15 days to reply.
In the notice, DGCA Chief Arun Mishra said it had been observed that the airline was not adhering to its flight schedule and "abruptly cancelling their flights time and again during the last 10 months", causing great inconvenience to the travelling public.
He also took note of the lockout which had led to "suspension of all their flights" and that the airline had "failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable services as required" under the rules.
Maintaining that this amounted to Kingfisher not complying with the provisions of the Aircraft Rules 1937, the regulator asked the airline why action should not be taken against it for this "violation".
Kingfisher had declared a lockout on September 28 till October 4, cancelling its entire flight schedule, and extended it till October 12 last night. The lockout was declared after the management failed to resolve the deadlock with its striking employees, including engineers and pilots, over non-payment of salaries for last seven months.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh took a strong note of the situation facing the private carrier and said besides the lockout, the DGCA was also studying the implications of the strike by the employees.
"There are a lot of factors involved in it, including the salaries of the employees, their disgruntlement issues and others. If the employees are disgruntled there is an issue of safety. In order to give them permission to fly, they have to satisfy the DGCA on all these issues," he said.
In Delhi and Mumbai, the angry staff of the liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned airline staged protest demonstrations wearing black-bands and carrying placards, to demand speedy disbursal of their dues.
In the evening, they held a candle-light vigil in Delhi to condole the death of the wife of a Kingfisher employee who committed suicide yesterday, apparently because of financial stress due to non-payment of salaries.
As per Section 15(2)(b) of Schedule XI of the Aircraft Rules 1937, DGCA may cancel or suspend permit of an airline for "such period as he thinks fit, if he is satisfied that the holder of the permit has failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable service."
DGCA chief Arun Mishra had called Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Agarwal on Tuesday and asked him to submit an operational plan of the airline.
In the meeting, the DGCA had also asked the airline to show their operational preparedness before the regulator could allow resumption of its operations by fulfilling all conditions relating to flight safety.
While Agarwal had assured that operations would be resumed by October 5, the airline has not been able to resolve its impasse with the employees over salaries and did not approach DGCA with any operational plan, a Ministry official said.
Further, the airline management extended the lockout till October 12.
"DGCA reviewed the current situation of the airline today and decided to issue the show cause notice to it under the Aircraft Rules," he said.
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