The sorry flight of a Kingfisher

Even if the government doesn't allow foreign airlines into the country and if he is unable to find other sources of capital for his airline, Vijay Mallya has an easy way to save himself from further pain. Hand over Kingfisher to the lenders, let them run the airline. By Vivek Sharma

It was not so long ago that Vijay Mallya set out to glamorise domestic aviation in this country. It dawned on him that none of the domestic airlines had any desire to bring back the industry's golden days and treat passengers like guests in a luxury resort. 

Those were the days when passengers looked forward to flying and excitedly talked about their experience to anyone who would listen. Everyone dressed up for the occasion and felt good in the presence of heavy makeup-wearing air hostesses.

Even the toast, omelette and tea served in the economy class were edible. These frills slowly disappeared and finally the no-frills carriers took off to the skies.

Nothing was free anymore, not even water, and some airline executives must have even dreamt of a day when they could charge passengers every time an air hostess smiled at them. Saddened by this fall in standards, Mallya wanted to show his fellow citizens how to fly in style. Like Mallya himself in his business jets.

Mallya did everything he could. He started an airline and branded it Kingfisher. It is a bird, it is a plane, you get the drift. It was just the right name for an airline, any association with his beer brand was unintentional. He went to Paris, bought brand new Airbus jets and painted them red. Before their first touchdown on Indian soil, Mallya made each jet circumambulate Lord Balaji at Tirupati, from the air. The heavens were pleased.