This isn't the best of times for the king of good times. On Monday, Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) operated only 16 of its 64 planes across various sectors.
Not having been paid for months, employees are leaving the company in droves.
Last week, 35 senior commanders quit KFA and joined its rival, IndiGo. A large number of cabin crew and ground staff also put in their papers.
The airline is now left with only about 100 captains for its Airbus A320 fleet. It has already shut Kolkata operations after most of the ground staff quit.
The airline has defaulted on payments to oil companies and airports too.
KFA hasn't ever made profits since its inception in 2005, had a debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore as on March 31, 2011 and reported a loss of Rs 444 crore for the third quarter ending December.The airline blamed the income tax department for the state of affairs.
It said in a statement that the prime reason for the current disruption was the "sudden attachment" of its bank accounts by the IT department.
What it did not say, however, was that the airline had failed to deposit with the income tax authorities the tax deducted from employees and vendors for close to two years, leaving the authorities with no other option.
Some analysts now believe that unless drastic steps — including immediate capital infusion — are taken, India's most glamorous airline run the risk of being grounded.
"With endless reports of grounded jets, unpaid staff and a slew of flights being cancelled, one has to question just how long Kingfisher can survive in its ever-shrinking form," Saj Ahmad, a London-based aviation analyst, told HT.
But Mallya ruled out shutting down the airline, even temporarily. "We have discussed the situation threadbare with the banks. Shutting down is not in national interest. Why should we give up?"