Kingfisher extends partial lockout

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Kingfisher Airlines has extended its partial lockout by a week to 12 October, as it failed to resolve an impasse with employees over the non-payment of salaries.

"We regret that the illegal strike has still not been withdrawn and normalcy has not been restored in the company, thereby continuing to cripple and paralyse the working of the entire airline," says Prakash Mirpuri, its vice-president of corporate communications.

The ailing airline grounded its fleet and declared a "partial lockout" on 1 October, one day after it suspended flights across its network as a result of labour unrest.

The carrier had previously said that it was forced to do so following a series of "unabated incidents of violence, criminal intimidation, assault, wrongful restraint and other illegal acts including refraining from work", by some of its technicians, engineers and pilots.

It will now extend the lockout to 12 October or an earlier date should the management be informed that the strike is called off, says Mirpuri.

Media reports in India say the management had met with some Delhi-based staff to persuade them to resume duty, offering to pay them a month of salary and promising to pay the balance owed once the airline is recapitalised. The offer was, however, rejected.

The country's aviation ministry is also unlikely to allow Kingfisher to resume its flights unless the carrier pays the employees and submits a recovery plan, the reports add.

The disgruntled employees were said to have not been paid for at least six months.

In early August, the carrier's pilots went on strike for the non-payment of salaries.

The carrier, which has not made a profit since starting operations, is also in talks with foreign carriers and domestic investors to sell a stake of the airline to raise much needed capital.