Kingfisher in talks for rescue package

Written by Agencies | Updated: Feb 27 2012, 20:18pm hrs
Kingfisher AirlinesAP Photo.
Kingfisher Airlines, owned by Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya, is in talks with two foreign carriers, including International Airlines Group (IAG) the owner of British Airways and Iberia for a potential rescue package, a report said.

This could pave the way for IAG to take a minority stake in the troubled Indian airline, a report by 'The Times' said.

Mallya, who controls 58 per cent of Kingfisher, told 'The Times' that he had secured provisional approval from the Indian government for a change in the law that would ease restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines.

He claimed that the foreign carriers, which he refused to identify, stood ready to invest as soon as the change was announced possibly within days.

It would allow overseas airlines to own up to 49 per cent of an Indian airline for the first time.

Mallya expressed confidence that a deal with a "foreign strategic investor" was likely.

The report quoting a financial source in Mumbai named one of the airlines involved as IAG.

Etihad, the UAE-based airline, is also keen to have discussed a tie-up, which would involve the foreign groups providing equity in exchange for a minority stake.

Kingfisher which has debts of Rs 6,300 crore (810 million), needs an immediate cash injection of up to 160 million to remain solvent, the report said.

Its fleet of aircraft has fallen to 28 from 64 and many of its pilots have deserted because they have not been paid.

Last night, IAG, according to the report, welcomed the possibility of a liberalisation of India's aviation industry but said that it was "too early to speculate about IAG's interest in any Indian airline at this stage."