New Delhi: The issue of non-payment of salary to staff of the long-defunct Kingfisher Airlines came back to haunt its chairman Vijay Mallya again with the employees, in an open letter, accusing him of damaging the image of the country, particularly the aviation industry.
The letter, which comes days after the beleaguered industrialist said that the “only regret” he has was that the carrier is not flying when the oil price has dipped so low, also accused him of having “blood”-stained hands.
The wife of a then Kingfisher airlines employee in Delhi had allegedly committed suicide, apparently depressed over financial stress due to non-payment of salary to her husband on October 4, 2012, when Mallya decided to ground the airline due to paucity of funds.
“We have been under continuous pain and agony due to your apathy towards us. However, it was particularly aggravated by your recent callous ‘NO REGRET” remark about KFA. For us, KFA still exists as we are still on the payrolls although without pay as we never received any communication from you, after you promised revival, about the shutdown of the company and our fate,” the employees said in the letter.
“I have no regrets as such. Perhaps the only regret is that Kingfisher Airlines is not flying today when the oil price is so low,” Mallya had said recently without expressing any remorse over non-payment of salary to hundreds of his airlines employees.
“We are still not able to understand what you meant when you said I don’t have money to pay your salaries while the spree continues, let it be Caribbean Premier League or luxurious yatch,” the letter said.
Mallya, widely known as the ‘King of Good Times’ in his heydays, had to quit recently as Chairman of United Spirits – a company founded by his family in which he sold majority stake to UK-based liquor giant Diageo.
As part of the deal that also ended a year-long boardroom battle at United Spirits, Diageo has agreed to pay Mallya USD 75 million.
Once billed as the most luxurious airline, Kingfisher had to be grounded in October 2012 after it landed in a major financial crisis with huge loans and payment defaults including to oil companies and airports.
Alleging that Mallya was able go away scot free “due to the depressing fact that the whole rotten system abets people like you”, the employees said “we don’t know whether it’s your influence in media houses or it’s their callous approach towards common man that most of them chose to ignore you and paid attention to make a hero out of a person who is out on bail, portraying him as the ultimate victim and hero.”
“As you don’t have regrets, it’s also important to highlight how much damage you have caused to the image of our country, particularly aviation industry. Because of you, upcoming airlines are finding it difficult to get aircraft on lease from leasing companies,” it said.
“Mr. Mallya you have blood on your hands. We have so much to tell you but you won’t have patience and time to listen to all that. Please do have regret and don’t set precedents dangerous to our country and aspiring entrepreneurs,” the agitated employees said in the letter.
Thirteen bankers, including SBI, have moved the Karnataka High Court seeking the arrest of Mallya for defaulting loans over Rs7,000 crore and the court yesterday ordered issue of notice to him.
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