Neelmani Singh, 27, a Delhi-based employee of Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), is worried about how he will pay her younger sister’s MCA course fees. The grounded airline has not paid salaries for almost two years now.
In Kolkata, Sujit Kumar Ghosh, 53, is scared of stepping out of home and getting confronted by his unpaid grocer, milkman and other daily needs suppliers. At home, an ailing wife needs immediate hospitalization but the former KFA ground support technician is finding it difficult to meet the medical expenses.
“Whatever could be sold, I’ve sold,” he laments. For exactly an year now, employees of the airline promoted by the flamboyant Vijay Mallya have hardly heard anything about their dues.
The airline, grounded since October 2012, paid salaries for July 2012 in April 2013, just before the last edition of the IPL to prevent employees from protesting at a stadium where Mallya’s team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, was playing.
Before that, the airline paid a month’s salary dues in October 2012, to buy peace with employees and stop their protests at the F1 venue in Greater Noida. The airline also owes over Rs 7,000 crore to banks, who are trying to recover the loans given to KFA by selling assets pledged with them. Then, there are dues to the tax department.
“At my age (53), getting another job is not easy. All the savings are gone. All valuables have been sold off. My daughter is trying to complete her college education by giving tuitions. It seems, ending life is the only option for me wife and I,” Ghosh said over the phone from Kolkata.
When contacted, KFA said it plans to pay salary. “We have applied to court for permission to pay salary,” a KFA spokesman said. When asked how much will be paid and when, the spokesman said: “We do not comment on matters that are sub judice.”
For employees, the wait continues.