Labour disruptions force Kingfisher to cancel flights

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India's Kingfisher Airlines has cancelled flights today as a result of labour disruptions caused by its engineers.

"A section of employees of Kingfisher Airlines has not been reporting to work over the last fortnight and over the past two days, they have been threatening and even manhandling the other employees who are reporting to work as usual," says the carrier.

"We are anticipating disruptions and/or delays of flights across our network on 1 October 2012 as it is likely that a section of employees of Kingfisher Airlines may not report to work due to such threats. With a view to mitigating the impact of these anticipated disruptions, we are proactively cancelling several flights across our network."

Flightglobal was unable to contact Kingfisher immediately with regard to the cancellations, but media reports in India suggest that the disgruntled employees are mainly aircraft engineers and that they have not been paid for months.

The website of New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport shows that all departing Kingfisher flights for the day have been cancelled.

The statement did not say whether Kingfisher will return to normal operations on 2 October 2012, which is a public holiday in India.

The news is just the latest blow for Kingfisher, which is reportedly $1.4 billion in debt.

On 13 August, it reported a net loss of Rs6.5 billion ($123 million) for its fiscal first quarter, against a net loss of Rs2.6 billion for the same period a year earlier. The carrier's pre-tax loss for the three months ended 30 June was Rs9.6 billion, compared with Rs3.9 billion a year ago.

In early August, the carrier's pilots went on strike for non-payment of salaries. This prompted chairman Vijay Mallya to question the wisdom of keeping the carrier running.

"Why should I spend every day to keep our airline afloat if the actions of our own colleagues lead to loss of guest confidence and lower income by cancellations of flights or low load factor that results from uncertainty?" he says.