Mallya mum on who will fund ailing Kingfisher

Nov 16, 2011, 08:26 IST | Bipin Kumar Singh

Though denying that he asked govt to bail his airline out, the liquor tycoon did not reveal how or from whom he is going to arrange the funds to pull Kingfisher out of debt

In the midst of the controversy surrounding debt-riddled Kingfisher Airlines, Vijay Mallya, the carrier's chairman, yesterday came out to put a brave front for his company at a press conference in the city.

Taking a stand in support of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian aviation sector, he criticised his rivals, while denying asking for a bailout from the government. At the same time though, he did not reveal much about how and from whom he is going to manage the funds the airline needs to emerge from debt and due payments.

Don't sweat it: Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya tried to put up
a brave front at the press conference yesterday. Pics/Rane Ashish

Speaking out in favour of a change in the current format of the FDI policy, Mallya said, "I am an avid supporter of FDI." He added, "Who will understand an airline better than the airline itself?"

As per the existing FDI norms in India, foreign airlines or any of their arms are barred from picking up stakes in the domestic aviation sector.

'Didn't ask for help'
Mallya thanked PM Manmohan Singh for his statement in favour of the airline but denied that he ever asked the government for any help. "I have not asked for any bailout package. How can I ask the government to bail me out with the taxpayers' money?" the liquor baron said.

He did not answer any questions related to the arrangement of funds for his cash-strapped carrier.

He only maintained that he is in touch with investors, including some Indian business houses that have approached him to help.

On the increasing fuel prices, he said that he had requested the agencies concerned to allow him to import the fuel directly from the international market. Speaking on the dues that his airline owes to oil companies, he said that of the three oil companies -- Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum -- full payment had been made to two, and a very small amount was pending for the third.

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