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Mallya swaps brewery for flight school

Vijay Mallya is planning to close down UB's brewery at Navi Mumbai to convert it into an aviation university, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

business Updated: May 21, 2007 23:37 IST
Lalatendu Mishra

Something new is brewing at the UB group and it is not beer. On the contrary, liquor king Vijay Mallya is planning to close down UB's brewery at Navi Mumbai to convert it into an aviation university, which will take wing to cater to the growing talent requirements of the baron's new passion, Kingfisher Airlines.

“We are planning to set up Kingfisher Aviation University at Nerul with capital investment of Rs 200 crore. Currently our pilots are being trained abroad. Once the university becomes operational by the end of 2008, we will start training them here," Mallya told reporters on Monday.

He said the production facilities of the Nerul brewery would be shifted to the Bombay Brewery at Taloja, about an hour's drive from the Mumbai airport.

The university would be equipped with simulators and other training facilities for ATR and Airbus pilots.

“We are also talking to some flying schools to get trained manpower from the grassroot training level. There are not many flying schools in India and we must get trained pilots at the entry level, so that we don’t have to spend much on training them again," Mallya said.

Earlier in the day, Mallya inaugurated The Kingfisher Training Academy, the group’s maiden foray into training of manpower required for fastest growing civil aviation sector, at Andheri in Mumbai. He disclosed plans to set up 10 such training academies across the country by the end of this year.

The academy will fine-tune skills of already trained professionals. Apart from catering to the requirements of Kingfisher Airlines, the trained personnel can join other carriers. A six-month course would cost Rs 1 lakh.

The training academy is spearheaded by Rajesh Verma, vice-president, inflight and catering, Kingfisher Airlines. Several former Jet Airways personnel have joined this academy in key positions. The academy plans to train 2,000 professionals in a year.

Associated Breweries & Distilleries Ltd, the brewery that will make way for the proposed aviation university, was acquired by UB when it took over the company from its owners Mehroo Irani, Zenia Lawyer and Bakthawar Chinoy in 2004. In 2000, UB bought 65 per cent stake in Associated Breweries & Distilleries Ltd and later went on to acquire the remaining stake before merging the operations with itself.

This brewery has an installed capacity of 163,800 hectolitres (HL) and produces several UB brands including its flagship brand Kingfisher beer. Earlier, it was producing renowned beer brands like London Pilsner, London Diet and Maharaja Premium.