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Updated: February 21, 2012 01:54 IST

Closing down not an option, says Mallya

PTI
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Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines' promoter Vijay Mallya on Monday night said he would not shut down the private carrier, which struggled to stay afloat after further large-scale flight disruptions and resignation of pilots.

“Closing down is not an option. It will not happen.The government does not want it to happen. It is not in the national interest,” Mr. Mallya said in his first public reaction to the latest crisis that had gripped his cash-strapped airline.

‘Help, not bailout'

“Why should we give up as long as we get help? Help is not bailout. We have asked banks to consider our proposal to provide more working capital,” he said, making it clear that the airline had never sought a bailout from the government.

In the context of getting help, the liquor baron referred to the government's decision to allow direct jet fuel imports by the airline and permit foreign carriers to pick up stake in them. He had lobbied hard with the government on both these issues.

Mr. Mallya claimed that the entire issue of bailout was of the “media's making.”

Asked about sudden disruption in Kingfisher flights, the UB Group chief said the bank accounts of the airline were frozen “very suddenly” by the Income Tax authorities over non-payment of tax dues.

“The abrupt disruption was unfortunate because our bank accounts were suddenly frozen by tax authorities. I don't deny we have taxes due. The bottom line is we requested for time to pay these dues,” Mr. Mallya said.

“It was the very sudden attachment of our accounts that obviously crippled us,” he said.

Kingfisher, which suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-2011 and has a debt of Rs. 7,057.08 crore, posted a Rs. 444 crore loss in the third quarter this fiscal.

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@Shyam Devendran: Vijaya Mallaya did to India with his Kingfiher Airlines what Sir. Richard Branson did Britain with his Virgin Atlantic. British Airways was a monopoly and were throwing thier weight around till Branson also took them on a epeic court battle and saved Virgin Atlantic. Here in India Air India is going on a colossal loss, how come no one seems to question anything about that? About United Brewery being a monopoly??? Where did you get that idea??? In Thamizh Nadu alone I can tell you how many choice of Beer you get apart from Kingfisher and how many brands of Vodka you get apart from Romanov.BAILING OUT-He never asked for that he said he only needs a bit of help what is wrong in that??? After he gave his personal money to get the Sword Of Tipu Sultan and also Gandhi's Spectacles-what did the people of India who cry foul do???

from:  Vikram Niranjan
Posted on: Feb 22, 2012 at 14:34 IST

The 'King of Good Times' suddenly seems to be worried about national interests. I Completely agree with the comments made above by Mr. Devendran.If we harp about free market economics, Kingfisher's elimination would be market's justice to a high cost, ill planned business. Under no circumstances should the ordinary tax payer be made to bear the brunt of this failure. Neither is King fisher too big to fail that its elimination will drastically push up ticket prices. King Fisher has been steadily losing market share to low cost airlines like Indigo and Spice who have cashed in by scaling up operations gradually.

Mr. Mallya can afford to serve free liquor to the entire stadium in IPL matches, maintain 50-60 properties across the world, sell his brand to extract favorable terms for business, but he can not and would not use the considerable resources at his disposal to resuce his ailing airline business.

Talk of blatant double standards.

from:  Rahul Apte
Posted on: Feb 22, 2012 at 12:00 IST

Brave words of the captain of a 'sinking ship'.

from:  Ranjit
Posted on: Feb 21, 2012 at 10:17 IST

Will the monopolised brewery-backed empire, beautifully described in one of earlier articles on the Hindu, soon become a true embodiment of the riches to rags story? Will the brick-by-brick tradition, growth leaps and bounds end with the air and roadshow extravaganza? Today, such big failing corporations may demand "help" from more and more nationalised banks and increase their toxic debts exponentially in a very short span of time. Banks pushed in such situations inevitably seek the "help" of the government. And the government finally seeks "help" from people in the form of taxpayers' money. "Transient and socially inconsistent big show" at the cost of BALING OUT the "layman", living his whole life hand-to-mouth.

from:  Shyam Devendran
Posted on: Feb 21, 2012 at 08:49 IST
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