India’s airline regulator has given Kingfisher Airlines, which has been grounded since Sept. 30 by an employee strike demanding months of unpaid wages, 15 days to prove it should retain its operating certificate.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today issued a warning to the airline “asking why its permit should not be canceled or suspended, as the airline has failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable service,” a government official tells Aviation Week.

DGCA can cancel or suspend air operator certificates if it is satisfied that the holder of the permit has failed to establish a safe, efficient and reliable service. “There are a lot of factors involved. That includes the salaries of the employees, their dissatisfaction and others. If the employees are disgruntled, there is an issue of safety,” says Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.

“It [Kingfisher] has to satisfy the DGCA on all these issues. If we want to suspend their license or revoke it, we have to see if the law permits,” he adds.

This warning comes days after the DGCA requested an operational preparedness plan from Kingfisher that, according to the government official, has yet to be delivered.

Meanwhile, cash-strapped Kingfisher has extended the suspension of all flight operations until Oct. 12 after failing to resolve differences with protesting pilots over nonpayment of salaries.

Employee actions over nonpayment of wages started almost seven months ago, and while banks on Oct. 4 agreed to release about $11 million for the airline to pay its staff, the offer of one-month’s salary was rejected by Kingfisher’s workers.

Kingfisher A320-200 photo: Airteam images