The pilots ware protesting non-payment of wages for almost five months. Earlier this month, the debt-ridden airline started paying February salaries.
The airline is under immense pressure from lenders to work out a turnaround plan. Kingfisher has never made a profit. Its share of India's domestic airline industry fallen from second to last among the six big carriers after it was forced to ground most of its fleet.
During recent talks, Kingfisher management had promised the pilots, who did not report to work on July 11 and 12 too, that their salaries would be paid by Friday but failed to keep their promise, a pilot said on condition of anonymity.
An airlines spokesperson said, "A certain section of employees have decided to stay away from duties due to salary payments not being credited to the bank accounts of all employees by Friday. Kingfisher wishes to state that more than 75 per cent of employees have actually received their promised salaries on Friday".
"We have further promised that the balance of our employees will receive their salaries by Monday", the spokesman said. The passengers booked on these flights have either been re-booked or given refunds, he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the striking pilots issued a statement defending their action, saying only 75 per cent of employees have been paid their salaries for February 2012. "We, the employees, against all odds have been working without payment of 5 and half months of salary. May we ask the upper management not to place blame of repeatedly missing deadlines for unpaid salary on the employees," the statement read.
"25 per cent of the employees still await the salary for Feb 2012. Also, 100 per cent employees await March, April, May and June 2012 salary," the statement added.
This is the third time in the last 12 days that the pilots have struck work. The earlier strike on July 11 saw 12 flights being cancelled. The strike on July 2 was called off after a few hours with the management promising to pay some sections of staff from July 6.
Also on Saturday, Kingfisher Airlines' chairman Vijay Mallyawrote to employees requesting them to not cancel flights. "This only makes my recapitalization efforts more difficult by causing concern and apprehension among our potential investors," he said in an email. (Read: Hope good sense will prevail: Mallya's letter to employees)
Kingfisher is currently carrying out truncated domestic and international operations with about 15 aircraft, instead of the earlier fleet strength 64, due to a severe operating cash crunch.
A large number of its flight engineers have reportedly quit over the past five months, primarily due to delayed payments. In April, around 200 engineers reported sick as a mark of protest over the issue.
The airline, which has not posted profit since inception in May 2005, has reported a loss of Rs 1,151.50 crore in the March quarter, has a debt of over Rs 7,500 crore and almost an equal amount of accumulated losses.
(With inputs from PTI, Thomson Reuters)