Liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Friday told representatives of his grounded Kingfisher Airlines, who have been sitting on a protest in Mumbai, that he did not have the money to clear their salary backlog.
In related development, the Airport Authority of India, to whom the airline owes more than Rs 300 crore, is planning to cancel permission to Mallya's private jet from flying from Indian airports.
"I don't have the money to pay your salary dues," Mallya is reported to have told the employees, sources close to the employees told Hindustan Times. Kingfisher did not respond to an email query from HT.
Mallya's airline has not paid its employees their salaries since July last year. The flamboyant tycoon reportedly told the employees that he could not use the $2 billion (about Rs 11,000 crore) proceeds from the sale of his United Spirits to Diageo to clear their dues due to an injunction from a court.
Mallya's personal assets include vintage cars, racing horses and properties across the world. He co-owns the Force India Formula One team and also owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise in the T20 League.
Around 75 employees of the grounded carrier have been sitting on a protest outside the company's headquarters in Mumbai to demand their salaries.
"We are in the process of finding out the registration details of the private jet. If it is owned by Kingfisher we can refuse permission to it to fly," a senior AAI official said.
Kingfisher hasn't operated a single flight since October last year when the Directorate General of Civil Aviation suspended Kingfisher's operating licence. Lenders to grounded Kingfisher Airlines are likely to move the debt recovery tribunal on selling the assets belonging to the airline.