Aviation

Mallya’s last stand at Kingfisher

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How the mighty have fallen. Once a market leader in the Indian skies, Kingfisher Airlines has now lost three of its four board members. The last one standing is its Chairman and promoter Vijay Mallya, India’s former billion dollar ‘king of good times’.

In 2003, when Mallya launched the airline it seemed like a good idea. He owned one of the most popular beers in India, Kingfisher. Owning a similarly named airline seemed even cooler. But switch to 2012, Kingfisher lost its license to fly and since then has landed Mallya only into hot water. Mallya, though, has always insisted that the airline would not only make good on its debts, but also be up and running in no time.

 Banks are now tearing the company apart and selling its intellectual property.  State Bank of India, the airline’s main lender, has invited bids for selling Kingfisher Airlines’ brand name. Business papers report trademarks offered include “fly kingfisher”, “flying models”, “fly the good times”, “funliner”, “kingfisher” and “flying bird device”.   Auditing firm Grant Thortnon valued the trademarks at around 3 billion rupee (roughly $50 million).

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No one wants the airline itself, though and Kingfisher is no longer expected to fly under a different ownership.  In 2013, rumor had it that Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi in the U.A.E. was a white knight. Instead, Etihad aquired a 20% stake in Jet Airways.  The airline’s decline and subsequent lay offs of employees resulted in numerous pie-in-the-face moments for Mallya, one of India’s most public figures.

On his part, Mallya sold some of UB Group’s stake in British liquor companyDiageo , but none of it went to the good of the airline.  Moreover, Mallya kept his trophy products — the F1 and the sports teams.  As a result, Kingfisher still owes over 8 billion rupees and lenders are unlikely to get that back.

Read the full report here, Forbes

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