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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 08, 2012
While a deadline set by the State Bank of India for a revival plan ticked away, Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) on Thursday reported a record loss of Rs. 754 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, compared with Rs. 469 crore a year ago.

The airline put on a brave face and said that a recovery plan was in the works and its grounded jets will take to the skies soon.

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Revenues plunged 87% at Rs. 200 crore during the quarter as auditors flagged concerns over KFA's financials and said the net loss would have been much higher, at about R1,032 crore, if the carrier had followed "generally accepted accounting standards" for certain income and expenses.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which said that no timeframe has been set for KFA to submit its comprehensive revival plan, was perhaps the only ray of hope for the bleeding airline. "They (Kingfisher) said they will submit the revival plan," DGCA Arun Mishra said in Hyderabad. "The proposal will be examined in all aspects before taking decision on revoking its licence. There is no timeframe."

The DGCA had suspended KFA's scheduled operators permit on October 19 till further orders.

State Bank of India (SBI) wants the airline's promoters to bring in a minimum of $1 billion (about R5,400 crore) by month-end for its revival. "I think about $1 billion would be a good starting point," SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri had said on Wednesday.

KFA said that it was "preparing a comprehensive plan for re-start of operations which will be shared with the DGCA and bankers."

Speculation is rife that Mallya may dig deep into the pockets of his spirits portfolio to infuse capital in KFA, but it could involve ceding control to suitors such as British liquor brand Diageo, said sources. Last month United Spirits and Diageo confirmed that the companies were in discussion for a "possible transactions for Diageo plc to acquire an interest in United Spirits."