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NEW DELHI: The billionaire owner of grounded Kingfisher Airlines said yesterday that he would present to the government a “comprehensive” plan to revive his debt-laden carrier.
Vijay Mallya, a Formula One tycoon nicknamed the “King of Good Times”, met Civil Aviation Secretary K N Shrivastava ahead of presenting a revival blueprint for his beleaguered carrier.
“I have briefed him on revival and restart plan,” the 56-year-old, who is also an independent member of parliament, told reporters after the meeting in New Delhi.
“It will be a comprehensive plan. All hurdles will be crossed,” Mallya said without elaborating.
India’s Directorate-General of Civil Aviation, the airline industry’s regulator, suspended Kingfisher’s licence earlier this month until it came up with a “viable” revival plan.
The debt-ridden airline, named after Mallya’s biggest drinks brand, owes billions of dollars in taxes and airport fees.
A pay dispute that led to a strike by pilots was only resolved last week.
Mallya owns a yacht, property across the world and a fleet of vintages cars.
But his empire is facing an increasing financial crunch.
His flagship United Breweries (UB) is in talks to sell a stake of the profitable empire to Diageo, the world’s largest distiller, which analysts say could raise
Kingfisher, which has $1.4bn in debts, currently has a fleet of 15 aircraft, down from an earlier 64 planes, as it battles to curb costs.
It has halted international operations and has the smallest market share among Indian airlines at 5.4 percent, after being the second-largest among the country’s six largest carriers at its peak.
The problems of Kingfisher are reckoned to be the worst among India’s private carriers, partly due to overly rapid expansion, while the government is reviving debt-laden state-run Air India with a nearly $6bn bailout.
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a Sydney-based consultancy, in a recent report said Kingfisher’s debt was $2.49bn including bank debts of $1.1bn, and it had accumulated losses of $1.9bn.