Hundreds suffer as Kingfisher cancels flights

Engineer strike paralyses airline

Hundreds were left stranded at Mumbai Airport on Monday after all 17 Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) flights scheduled for the day were cancelled due to a strike by engineers over non-payment of salaries.

"I had booked a 7.30 pm flight to Delhi a couple of days ago. First, I was told Kingfisher would try to accommodate me on an 8 pm flight, but when I went to the booking counter at 6 pm I was told all flights had been cancelled. At least I got refund," said Umar Baktoo of Colaba.

A Mumbai International Airport Ltd spokesperson said only one KFA flight arrived, from Bangalore, on the day. "As of now there is no communication on cancellations tomorrow," he said.

Gurdeep Singh of Lokhandwala, who had booked a Tuesday flight, said: "They said my flight has been cancelled and refunded me."

KFA engineers across the country have not received salaries since March. An employee of the airline said pilots reported to work, but without engineers no flight could take off. Engineers certify airworthiness of a flight.

A meeting of the striking engineers with company officials on Monday morning remained inconclusive. "A section of employees has not been reporting to work over the last fortnight and over the past 2 days, they have been threatening and even manhandling employees reporting to work," a Kingfisher spokesperson said. A source at Mumbai Airport said KFA had not been maintaining schedule for past 15 days and there were three-four cancellations every day.

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