Kingfisher’s last call on all of its overseas flights

Marion Dakers
KINGFISHER Airlines made its last international flights yesterday as it closed overseas operations amid ballooning debts.

The airline, chaired by liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, said last month it was scrapping routes including its London flights as it tries to avoid bankruptcy.

The firm has not made a profit since launching in 2005.

It managed to pay its employees’ salaries this week for the first time since December, but is still struggling to keep up with fees and fuel costs.

Kingfisher is resorting to paying airport charges on a cash-and-carry basis, the owner of Delhi airport GMR said yesterday, but still owes 750m rupees (£9.2m) in unpaid dues.

Kingfisher Airlines has a debt load of $1.3bn, and its banks already own around a quarter of its shares following a debt restructuring last year. Its main lender, the State Bank of India, has said it will not consider further loans until it raises new equity itself.

Kingfisher got some breathing room last week when its bank accounts were unfrozen by the Indian tax man, after the firm cleared some of its bills.

The firm has said foreign airlines are interested in investing in the company, and that those investors are just awaiting a formal government approval.

The Indian authorities are due to decide later this week whether to open up the country’s air sector to overseas investment.

Indian-listed shares in Kingfisher jumped 7.5 per cent to 18.6 rupees yesterday as hopes rose for a foreign investor rescuing the firm. Its shares have lost almost half their value over the last year.