Now, crippled Kingfisher sees flight of engineers

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Kingfisher

Mumbai, Jun 26: About 80 engineers have quit beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines during the past four months due to non-payment of salaries by the near-bankrupt carrier, sources said.

"Some 60-80 engineers have already quit the carrier in the last 4-5 months, as they could not sustain non-payment of salaries. And more are planning to do so," airline sources told PTI here.

Some more engineers are in the process of bidding good-bye to the carrier, they said, adding that "if the trend continues, the airline may face severe shortage of engineers."

Also, around 200 engineers reported sick in April this year protesting delay in salaries.

Unfazed by the large exodus, Kingfisher, however, maintained that it has "sufficient number" of engineers to maintain its fleet.

"We have sufficient number of engineers to support our operations," a Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson said in a text message.

Relegated to the bottom of the market pie with its share nose-diving to a mere 5.2 percent in May from as high as 20 percent last year, on account of a truncated flights, the airline has not paid salary to its employees since February.

The airline, which has not posted profit since its inception in May 2005, made a loss of Rs 1,151.5 crore in the March quarter, has debt of over Rs 7,500 crore and an equal amount of accumulated losses.

The Bangalore-based carrier, which has also been defaulting on tax payments as well as bills to its vendors, has been seeking fresh bank funds since last December apart from trying to raise overseas funds unsuccessfully.

But bankers have been resisting the demand saying the promoters, including chairman Vijay Mallya himself, have to bring in at least Rs 2,000 crore in fresh capital to consider the demand.

Kingfisher had pledged assets ranging from its brand to office furniture for Rs 6,400 crore bank loans, according to the Finance Ministry.

This includes a luxury villa in Goa, two helicopters, a building in Mumbai and shares have also been used as collateral for loans as of Nov 2011, Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena had told Parliament last December.

PTI

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