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Mallya eyes stake in Air Deccan

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CASTLE IN THE AIR: (from left) Praful Patel, Minister for Civil Aviation, Vijay Mallya, Chairman and CEO, Kingfisher Airlines, and John Leahy, COO (Customers), Airbus, before boarding the double-decker Airbus A-380 for a demonstration flight in New Delhi on Monday. PHOTO: KAMAL NARANG
CASTLE IN THE AIR: (from left) Praful Patel, Minister for Civil Aviation, Vijay Mallya, Chairman and CEO, Kingfisher Airlines, and John Leahy, COO (Customers), Airbus, before boarding the double-decker Airbus A-380 for a demonstration flight in New Delhi on Monday. PHOTO: KAMAL NARANG

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya on Monday indicated that he might pick up a stake in the domestic no-frills carrier Air Deccan but was not prepared for buying out the private budget airline.

"Am I interested? Yes. Am I imminently acquiring it? Not decided as yet,'' Mr. Mallya who also heads the UB group and is billed as India's `liquor baron,' told newspersons at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.

He was responding to a query if Air Deccan was in his acquisition plans. "I do not have any current plans to acquire Air Deccan,'' he added.

Mr. Mallya who launched Kingfisher Airlines two years ago and positioned it as a full service-true value carrier, had sought to acquire Air Sahara last year but the deal had remained in the realm of speculation only and it never took off.

Kingfisher Airlines is the only carrier of India which has placed orders for purchasing the new super jumbo A-380 which landed in Delhi on Sunday.

Air Deccan, promoted by Capt. G. R. Gopinath, is the country's largest low-fare airline with over 350 daily flights and a fleet of new Airbus A320s and ATRs.

PTI reports:

Capt. Gopinath on Monday reacted sharply to Mr. Mallya's contention that he was interested in picking a stake in the budget carrier and categorically asserted "we are not for sale.''

"We are here for a long haul. We are not for sale... We are three times bigger (than Kingfisher) in routes and operations,'' Capt. Gopinath said when his reaction was sought on Mr. Mallya's comments at a press conference.


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