Kingfisher Airlines Crisis – The Timeline

By CA Prashant Kumar Dutt

Kingfisher Airlines was set up in 2003 but hasn’t seen a single year of profit since it got listed in 2006.

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Here’s the timeline surrounding the Kingfisher Airlines Crisis:

2005

  • Kingfisher Airlines’ maiden flight takes off.
  • Becomes the first and only Indian carrier to order the Airbus A380. Orders five A380s (cancelled subsequently), five A350-800s and five A330-200s for over $3 billion.

2007

  • Vijay Mallya eyes stake in Air Deccan.
  • Vijay Mallya buys over the crisis-ridden no-frills Air Deccan owned by Capt Gopinath in 2007. The merged group plans to save up to Rs. 300 crore on costs with a combined fleet strength of 71 aircraft.

2009

  • Kingfisher’s board approves a resolution to raise $100 million (nearly Rs 487.8 crore) by various instruments including Global Depository Receipts (GDRs).
  • Kingfisher reports a net loss of Rs 418.77 crore during the second quarter of the fiscal.
  • In view of the huge losses and capacity reduction, Kingfisher decides to lay off nearly 100 pilots. The air-carrier later hiked fuel surcharges.

2010

  • Despite operating losses, Kingfisher announces flight to Europe.
  • Kingfisher Airlines Board approves debt recast package. The airline’s debt stood at over Rs 6,000 crore.

2011

  • The company’s auditors submit an annual report for 2010-11 which pointed out that the loss-making air carrier’s accumulated losses at the end of the financial year were more than 50 per cent of its net worth.
  • Vijay Mallya decides to exit low-cost business.
  • The airline, with a debt of around Rs 6,500 crore, looks at cutting costs and taking several steps to face the challenging times.
  • Kingfisher Airlines loss doubles to Rs.469 crore for the September 2011 quarter.
  • Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. sends a notice to the cash-strapped airlines to pay the Rs.90-crore outstanding dues.
  • The Service Tax Department freezes 11 accounts of Kingfisher Airlines for non-payment of Rs.70 crore.
  • Govt de-freezes bank accounts after part-payment of the service tax dues.

2012

  • Kingfisher Airlines, reports a loss of Rs.444.26 crore at the third quarter results for 2011-12.
  • Kingfisher Airlines cancels several of its flights after reports of the Income-Tax Department freezing some of its accounts.
  • Further trouble, as employees protest delays in salary payment.
  • Vijay Amritraj resigns from Kingfisher board.
  • Kingfisher announces curtailing of its international operations.
  • Revenue dept. threatens to take Kingfisher Airlines to court over alleged service tax evasion, saying the company has not deposited taxes it collected from travellers.
  • Mr. Mallya explains the airline’s position to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) following summons and says that it is suspending all its international operations.
  • Burdened by a debt of over Rs.7,000 crore, the airline suspends operations from Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Bhubaneshwar. The airline operated about 120 daily flights by this date, down from more than 400 earlier.
  • The airlines inducts three independent directors in its board to comply with the listing norms.
  • The company’s staff threaten to go on strike, demanding payment of salary dues.
  • The standoff ends with the protestors accepting the assurance given by Mallya.
  • Employees, including pilots and engineers, receive salaries after a delay of nearly four months.
  • Kingfisher flights cancelled after the pilots report sick to protest non-payment of salaries.
  • Kingfisher shares tumble over 13% following reports that 34 aircraft have been possessed due to non-payment of lease rentals.
  • A 15-day time was given by the company’s lenders to come up with a plan to improve its operations. The airlines had a total outstanding debt of around Rs.7,500 crore to a consortium of 17 banks led by State Bank of India (SBI).
  • Pilots go on strike against the non-payment of wages for almost five months.
  • Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh rules out bailout of Kingfisher Airlines.
  • A section of its employees strike and 15 flights were cancelled.
  • A section of pilots of the near-bankrupt airlines go on strike, second time in a month, demanding immediate payment of March salaries, leading to cancellation of seven flights from Mumbai.
  • Chairman Vijay Mallya gives guarantees worth Rs. 5,904 crore for the carrier’s loans and other liabilities in 2011-12, but did not get any commission for the same because of lenders’ opposition.
  • Pilots from both Delhi and Mumbai threaten to strike work as part of mass agitation for immediate disbursal of salaries.
  • Mr. Mallya announces that the carrier was in talks with overseas airlines for investment.
  • Turning down a request for Rs.200-crore working loan by Kingfisher, the State Bank of India-led lenders consortium, asks SBI Capitals to chalk out a fresh revival plan for the cash-strapped airline in the next 2-3 weeks.
  • Unpaid staff protest in Delhi, Mumbai and other airports and almost all of Kingfisher’s flights from all stations were cancelled as engineers did not certify the planes to fly.
  • The carrier declared partial lock-out following a strike by a section of its employees.
  • Banks give lifeline to the carrier, agreeing to release Rs.60 crore locked in an escrow account to pay employees’ salaries.
  • DGCA issues show-cause notice to Kingfisher asking why its flying permit should not be suspended or cancelled.
  • DGCA asks Kingfisher to stop ticket bookings, following reports that the airline planned to resume normal operations from October 13.
  • A non-bailable arrest warrant issued against Vijay Mallya, and four other directors for non-appearance in cases relating to bouncing of cheques issued in favour of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) towards user charges.
  • The airline’s permit got suspended and experts said Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries group needs to pump in over Rs. 3,000 crore to get Kingfisher airborne again as no foreign operator would come forward to invest in the airline in its present state.
  • Employees reject the management’s fresh offer and demand payment of four months’ backlog in lumpsum before October 26.
  • Engineers, technicians and pilots call off their 26-day strike and agreed to join work immediately by accepting the management’s offer of disbursal of three months salary.
  • Vijay Mallya meets Civil Aviation Secretary K.N. Srivastava on the airlines’ revival plan and its intention to resume operations as soon as possible.
  • The airlines pay April salary to its employees and the salary for March was paid the moment the employees called off their strike on October 25.
  • Mr. Mallya loses Royal Challenge when international liquor major Diageo announced its decision to acquire 53.4 per cent stake in Vijay Mallya-owned United Spirits Ltd. (USL) for Rs.11,166.50 crore.
  • The company starts paying salaries to employees in batches and employees with low salaries received their May wage.
  • Karnataka High Court directs Kingfisher to deposit 50 per cent of the total amount of Rs.371 crore that the company is required to remit to the Income Tax Department as tax deducted at source (TDS) from its employees and payments made towards company expenses.
  • Kingfisher applies for renewal of its licence that would expire on December 31.
  • The Airlines submits an interim revival plan to the DGCA, seeking approval to take to the skies once again after being grounded for almost three months.
  • The carrier loses its flying licence as the DGCA refused to renew its Air Operator Permit (AOP).

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2013

  • The company flies into more trouble, with its employees planning to head to court, a move that came after the management delayed in paying pending salaries.
  • The airlines’ Chairman Vijay Mallya appeals to his staff to stay on board, telling them that he was planning a limited restart with seven aircraft.
  • SBI’s Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri says that Kingfisher needs Rs. 2,000 crore for revival.
  • United Breweries Holdings seeks shareholders’ approval to provide additional loans of Rs.450 crore to the grounded airline.
  • The Special Court for Economic Offences, Bangalore, issues summons to Vijay Mallya on a criminal case filed by the Income-Tax Department for not remitting to the government tax deducted at source (TDS).
  • The beleaguered airlines loses international and domestic flying slots and the move came close on heels of a decision taken by the consortium of bankers to start recalling their loans amounting to Rs.7,500 crore.
  • DGCA asks the carrier to clear all dues, including pending salaries of employees, before seeking licence renewal.
  • DGCA deregisters 15 Kingfisher aircraft.
  • Bombay High Court refuses to grant any interim relief to United Breweries Holdings, which had filed a petition to prevent Kingfisher Airlines’ lenders from selling pledged shares of UB group companies.
  • The airlines’ staff protest in Bangalore demanding the immediate release of their pending salaries.
  • Mallya says he cannot pay his employees. Kingfisher in talks with foreign investor for potential stake sale.
  • Mallya ranks 84th in Forbes India rich list.

2014

  • Employees of grounded Kingfisher Airlines have intensified efforts to recover their unpaid salaries.
  • Kingfisher Airlines reported a net loss of Rs. 822.42 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2013.
  • The CEO of the company, Sanjay Aggarwal quit Kingfisher airlines.
  • The Kingfisher was declared to be the top NPA of the country as it failed to repay loans of over 4,000 crore, mostly borrowed from state-owned banks.
  • Kingfisher Airlines head Vijay Mallya personally appears before the Special Court for Economic Offences in Bangalore, in connection with three criminal cases booked against him by the Income Tax Department. The court granted him bail while directing him to deposit Rs. 1 lakh as cash surety in each case, bail bonds and solvent surety for the same sum.
  • CBI institues a preliminary inquiry against IDBI Bank and Kingfisher Airlines. The bank had sanctioned a loan of Rs. 950 crore, despite KFA having a negative rating
  • Punjab National Bank issues notice to KFA alleging the carrier has wilfully defaulted in payment of outstanding dues of over Rs 770 crore.
  • United Bank of India declares Vijay Mallya and three directors of Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) as wilful defaulters.
  • Supreme Court denies relief to KFA challenging the decision of the Grievance Redressal Committee of United Bank of India (UBI) to declare the airline and its promoter Vijay Mallya as wilful defaulters.
  • Vijay Mallya reiterates his intention to seek legal recourse in the UBI case, during the Annual General Body Meeting of United Breweries.

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