* Carrier's licence remains suspended
* Shares rise by their daily limit
* Aviation minister says challenges go beyond salaries
(Adds details, background)
By Arup Roychoudhury
NEW DELHI, Oct 25 Employees of India's grounded
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd have agreed to return to work,
the embattled carrier's chief executive said on Thursday after
meeting with staff, who have not received their salaries since
The airline founded by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, which has
not flown since the start of October after an employee protest
turned violent, still must convince the aviation regulator to
reinstate its licence, which was suspended on Saturday.
"All employees have agreed to resume duty right now. They
are on duty as we speak ... We are all in this together and
looking forward to getting the airline going in the next few
weeks," CEO Sanjay Aggarwal told reporters.
Shares in Kingfisher were up 4.83 percent, effectively at
their 5 percent daily limit, after falling by a similar amount
in each of the four previous sessions.
Earlier this week, Kingfisher offered to pay three months
wages by Nov. 13 and clear arrears every month after that, were
striking employees to restart work by Friday.
ŸThe airline, which was once India's second-largest by
domestic market share, has never made a profit since its launch
in 2005, and has total debt of nearly $2.5 billion, according to
an estimate by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a
On Saturday, India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation
(DGCA) suspended the airline's licence after the carrier failed
to address its concerns over safety.
"The salary is a big issue and the employees should be paid.
But the larger issue than that is their fiscal assurance to the
DGCA", Ajit Singh, India's civil aviation minister, told the ET
Now TV station earlier on Thursday.
"They have a lot of outstanding (debts) to the airports
authority, to oil companies, to the leasing companies. So it's
not just a question of salary ... To allow them to fly again,
DGCA is to be satisfied on many more things," Singh said.
Kingfisher has been scrambling for investors to inject fresh
capital into it, and had lobbied for a recent Indian rule change
that allows foreign carriers to buy up to 49 percent of an
Indian airline. However, no international carrier has publicly
expressed interest in taking a stake in Kingfisher.
(Additional reporting by Kaustubh Kulkarni in MUMBAI; Writing
by Tony Munroe; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)