A new low-cost carrier is being readied by liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Christened Kingfisher Air by the UB Group chairman, who will be filing for scheduled carrier status next week with the director general of civil aviation, the no frills airline will fly on all national routes.
Mallya told the Hindustan Times, “Aviation is in our blood, UB Air has been around for ever so long. Remember that I fly my own Boeing 727. I am looking at the entire gamut of operations associated with aviation — from ground handling to soaring into the skies in our own aircraft.”
Mallya also confirmed that he had a preliminary meeting with civil aviation minister Praful Patel who was most supportive and wanted the civil aviation to grow with the entry of quality players.
Mallya, who owns a Boeing 727, a Gulfstream III and a Hawker Siddley 125, is studying various options as far as the fleet is concerned.
He said, “I am clear that we will require eight Airbus 320 in the first round when we launch by the year end. Whether we will go in for outright purchase or lease them is part of the ongoing dialogue with Airbus. There are several options before us hich we are exploring.”
Mallya reckons that over the years, his group has pumped in hundreds of crores in building brand equity around the Kingfisher brand. Now, as he says, is the time to reap what he has sown. Kingfisher, according to him, is a lifestyle statement and it is time to take the big leap with it. As he said, “I have examined all the issues before leaping into the deep end. We are looking at an initial investment of Rs 150 crore which will be scaled up as we go along.”
Buoyed by the success of the no- frills Air Deccan, Mallya wants to make his operation as attractive as possible. Eight Airbus 320 in the first round is an extremely large fleet size. Each Airbus 320 is normally configured to seat 150 passengers . Indian Airlines fleet has 41 Airbus 320s.