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After Air India, Kingfisher pilots report sick

MUMBAI: Kingfisher Airlines faced fresh turbulence on Thursday when a section of its pilots in Delhi reported sick leading to cancellation of 15 flights, adding to the woes of passengers hit by the stir by Air India pilots. The Vijay Mallya-owned carrier could face more trouble as its Mumbai-based pilots have also decided not to fly from tonight, sources in the airline said in Mumbai.

The pilots of the cash-strapped airline are protesting the "backtracking" by the management on its "assurance" of remitting their January salaries from May 9.

The cancelled services from Delhi include flights to Shimla, Dehradun, Dharamshala and Jaipur—routes operated by turboprop aircraft. "The management had said that it would start giving January salaries from May 9 onwards. However, it has backtracked on its commitment," Kingfisher sources told PTI.

"So the Delhi-based pilots decided to report sick from today at a meeting last night," the sources said. The Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya had "assured" the staff in his May 5 communication to them that their January salaries will be remitted from May 9.

Last month also, Kingfisher management had said it would pay employees' December salaries between April 4 and April 9 in a phased manner, but some of the employees received their salaries as late as around April 24, the sources said.

A section of the staff, including pilots and engineers, had last week said they were contemplating moving to the Labour Court to seek its intervention and expedite settlement of their dues.

Kingfisher Airlines has been facing financial troubles for almost a year now. The airline, which never made a profit since its inception in May 2005, reported a net loss of Rs 444.26 crore in the December quarter.

It suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore. Due to the paucity of funds, the air carrier now operates only 110 flights a day with a fleet of 20 aircraft as against 400 flights per day last year with 66 planes.

The airline had a 6.4 per cent market share in March, and was ranked below the budget carrier GoAir, which cornered 7.5 per cent market share in the same period. — PTI




Russian jet traced, all feared dead

Cidahu (Indonesia): A Russian Sukhoi jet that went missing in Indonesia with about 50 people on board was located on Thursday, a day after it disappeared, a military official told AFP. 

"The Super Puma (helicopter) we deployed this morning has spotted the Sukhoi plane in the Cijeruk area. For the time being we can say nothing about its condition because it was sighted from far away in the air," said Ali Umri Lubis, spokesman for a military airbase. A Russian Sukhoi Superjet with about 50 people on board that disappeared in mountainous terrain during a demonstration flight on Wednesday.
The plane vanished from radar screens south of the capital Jakarta 50 minutes into what was meant to be a brief flight and initial efforts to locate the jet proved fruitless.

Shortly after dawn on Thursday a team of 40 rescuers headed towards Salak mountain, where the Superjet 100 went missing, an AFP reporter said, with helicopters also due to join in the search.

"So far we still have not found the plane. I cannot confirm but there is a possibility that it could have crashed," said Ketut Parwa, the capital's search and rescue agency chief, who is coordinating operations.

"If it had made an emergency landing we should have received some news via the radio or phone calls by passengers by now," he told AFP.




US cuts $800 mn aid to Pakistan  

Washington: A Congressional Committee in its budgetary proposals for the year 2013 has prohibited economic and security assistance to Pakistan till it co-operates with the US in the fight against terrorism. 

In a move that could affect the US-Pakistan ties further, a House panel on Wednesday moved to block the USD 800 million aid that was requested for a special fund for training and equipping Pakistan's military in counterinsurgency tactics. The new move clearly suggests that the US lawmakers are apprehensive of Pakistan’s actions against containing terrorism. The US-Pak relationship has hit a new low amidst Washington’s unilateral raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden last year. 

According to a news agency, Rep Jesse Jackson Jr, D-Ill, accused Pakistan of "harboring a fugitive" and likened the US-Pakistan relationship to a "bad marriage." 





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