MUMBAI, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- India's Kingfisher Airlines, citing an employee strike over salaries, extended its four-day-old partial lockout to Oct. 12.
The announcement came after talks between the airline, controlled by India's liquor baron Vijay Mallya, and striking employees, who say they haven't been paid in seven months, broke down late Thursday.
The airline in a statement said the "illegal strike has still not been withdrawn and normalcy has not been restored, thereby continuing to cripple and paralyze the working of the entire airline," the Times of India reported.
The lockout by the airline, which had operated about 70 daily flights, was to have ended Thursday. It could now last until next Friday unless the strike is called off before that date.
The Times said at least 200 engineers and about 100 pilots are demanding their salary dues be cleared, and with no assurance from the airline, the employees decided to continue their strike.
"I am not sure if this airline will ever operate a flight again," said a Kingfisher commander, the Times said.
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh was quoted as saying, "The ball is in Kingfisher's court."
The Deccan Herald newspaper quoted Singh as saying: "I do not want to make any value judgment. My job as the civil aviation minister and that of the (airline regulator) is to make sure that before Kingfisher flies they follow all the safety parameters."
The Wall Street Journal said the airline hasn't earned a profit in its seven years of operation. Its current debt load is about $1.4 billion.
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