Cash-strapped private carrier Kingfisher Airlines, on Tuesday, said it had temporarily suspended the operations from several major cities and had asked nearly half of its employees to stay at home till it managed to infuse fresh funds.

Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher, which is burdened by a debt of over Rs.7,000 crore, also did not rule out laying off some staff, saying a decision on the issue would depend on various decisions to be taken by the government and its bankers about funding and related issues.

As Kingfisher grapples with cash-crunch and delayed payments of salaries and other dues to its employees, a spokesperson said the airline was putting in place a ‘holding plan' pending re-capitalisation.

“There are several stations to which operations have been temporarily suspended,'' the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Since we could resume operations after getting re-capitalised, most staff at these stations have been asked to stay at home whilst remaining on the company's rolls,'' the spokesperson said.

Sources in the airline indicated that the carrier would now be able to fly to less than 30 cities.

Among the destinations from where the operations were being temporarily suspended were: Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Bhubaneshwar.

The airline now operates about 120 daily flights, down from more than 400 earlier. The airline, however, did not indicate the number of cities to which it has curtailed the operations.

The statement added that the airline had begun the summer schedule with about 120 daily flights with 20 dedicated aircraft.

They said 40-50 per cent of about 6,000 staff had been asked to stay at home, but they would remain on the Kingfisher rolls.

On the speculation about Kingfisher's plans to retrench some of its staff, the spokesperson said, “We are in a ‘holding' pattern right now and are waiting for various decisions from the government and our consortium of bankers on FDI policy, working capital funding, and the like. All of these will have a major impact on the staffing decisions we will have to make.''

“In the current schedule, we have taken care to ensure that we maintain schedule integrity with 100 per cent reliability. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is also monitoring our safety standards on a constant basis,'' the statement said.

It said the airline's immediate priority was to access funds to pay outstanding staff salaries.

It added that as per the directions of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Bangalore, the carrier had paid Rs.44 crore towards TDS dues.

40-50 per cent of about 6,000 staff asked to stay

at home, but

they will continue to remain on the company's rolls