Peeved employees have virtually grounded Kingfisher Airlines as hundreds of unpaid staff protested in Delhi, Mumbai and other airports on Monday forcing the airline to cancel over two dozen flights.

Almost all of Kingfisher’s flights from all stations were cancelled on Monday as engineers did not certify the planes to fly. All 17 departures from Mumbai were cancelled while one flight from Bangalore out of 17 arrivals landed here. The management is talking to the agitated employees but with no respite.

The first flight, which was scheduled for take-off at 13.45 hours, was stranded till the evening as the aircraft could not be cleared for take-off. On Monday, pilots also joined the protest, and the employees have asked the management to pay their unpaid dues by October 5. Most employees have not got their salaries from March, and have been reporting to work with the hope that the situation would improve once foreign airlines are allowed to invest in Indian carriers. But now hope is fading away as the airline’s owner Vijay Mallya has not been able to rope in a partner.

“He (Mr. Mallya) has been only assuring. Now we realise he was giving us false hopes. How someone can run a family without pay for so long?” asked an agitated employee.

“We want an explanation. This time nobody has written to us clarifying the stance. Mr. Mallya has the money, but is not willing to pay us,” said an angry pilot.

Kingfisher Airlines, in a statement, said, “A section of employees has not been reporting to work over the last fortnight, and over the past two days, they have been threatening and even manhandling other employees who are reporting to work as usual.” “We are anticipating disruptions and/or delays of flights across our network. With a view to mitigating the impact of these anticipated disruptions, we are cancelling several flights across our network for October 1, 2012,” the statement added. “We are monitoring the situation and continue to engage with employees,” the statement added.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told journalists in New Delhi that Kingfisher’s flights would not be allowed to fly without being properly inspected on safety grounds. The DGCA is looking into it, and is closely monitoring the situation.

Kingfisher Airline’s shares plunged by 5 per cent on the BSE, and got locked in the lower-end of the circuit filter at Rs. 15.35.

More In: Companies | Business