For how long will you work if your company stops paying you? How long would you continue in your job if your company’s prospects are on a shaky ground? Can you suppress your disappointments and serve your clients with smile or will you vent your anger on your company’s customers?
I had an opportunity of flying Kingfisher 2 months ago and above thoughts crossed my mind.
I had my share of Kingfisher flights back in the days of its glory. Not too many, but I’ve had few flights in Chennai-Blr, Chennai-Delhi and Chennai Mumbai sectors. Read my earlier post on Kingfisher experience here. I was also part of Kingfisher’s Mysore airport activation (launch of service to and from Mysore) back in 2010, in which airline spent several lakhs.
Past 1 year hasn’t been good for Kingfisher. Rising debts, employee strikes and other issues have now brought the airline to near bankruptcy state and only few flights are operational just to keep the license active. News is that employees are not paid since months. In such a situation, I was booked on a Kingfisher flight to Bengaluru this july. I hoped that there’ll be no cancellations and to my relief, it was on time.
The departure was on time. The 80 seater ATR had about 20+ passengers, about one fourth its capacity. Had the airline managed to operate a small schedule without uncertainties, it could have enjoyed higher load factor. Despite the cheapest ticket, people hesitated to fly Kingfisher due to safety and schedule concerns.
I focused my attention on the service. It was the same service with smile. I had no reason to complain, as the staff never give a clue of their personal agonies. I’ve undergone a similar situation of job uncertainty during Satyam collapse in 2009, (Read Kingfisher vs Satyam) so I can understand what might be going on in their minds-not receiving salaries since months, dried up savings to meet basic expenses and a sympathetic look from peers and relatives. Despite all the worries, they served their passengers (however few) to the best of their abilities and this needs appreciation. Not sure if most of us would do the same if we were in their place.
The food options have dwindled. All they had on offer was veg sandwich (Rs 150). None of the other items on the menu, including tea/coffee were available.
Vijay Mallya’s complaint so far was that Govt is not allowing FDI in airlines. Now that wish has been granted and need to see if Mallya can get an investor on board who can turn around the airline. For every rupee Mallya looses, his debtors loose Rs 14. So it makes a lot of Business sense for Mallya to let the airline die with its debts, start a new airline after sometime under new name. Any normal businessman would do that, but I hope Mallya is different. Not being able to handle Kingfisher airline crisis will be biggest blackspot in Mallya’s career and his credibility, so let us hope Mallya and his to be foreign partner can do some wonders. Wondering who’d be interested in Kingfisher airlines- Will Richard Branson show some interest as he is up for challenges all the time? Richard and Mallya make for a deadly combination. Together they can rename the airline as Virgin-Kingfisher.
Let us hope for the best.