Kingfishers, those lovely little birds, are known for their bright plumage, pointed bills - and large head. There are 90 species of those flamboyant birds, and when India added another one - of a non-avian variety - we all looked up to the skies and said, 'Is it a bird? Is it Superman? No, it's a plane!' Like its extrovert owner Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines too started with a bang and bling: an appealing logo, bright colour schemes, in-flight entertainment systems and very decent looking cabin crews. After decades of stodgy Air India service and years of podgy air-hostesses, it felt really good (that First World feeling!) to be part of a swish jet. And, then somewhere down the line, things started unfurling. As of March 31, 2011, the airlines has an accumulated loss of over Rs 4,283 crore and the smart folks who understand the ledgers tell us that the beautiful airline didn't make even a rupee in profit since it was launched in 2005. Tch! The Kingfisher Calendar must have made more.
Four years ago at the Paris airshow, Mr Mallya declared in style that he had big dreams: new long-haul routes and expansion of the existing ones. Everyone listened awestruck to our desi Richard Branson. But, alas, at the time of going to press, Kingfisher Airlines has already cancelled 150-plus flights.
But Mr Mallya's tweet de resistance came moments after the civil aviation minister - fearing 'political trouble' - said that a debt recast like the one that was done for Air India was not possible for Kingfisher. The King of Not-So-Good Times tweeted: "Every government has gone out of the way to support airlines and connectivity. In India, airlines are over-taxed and over-charged. Wonder why?" Sour grapes or top-notch wine?