Vijay Mallya, the self titled King of Good Times, saw nothing but wealth and opulence the moment he took over from Papa Mallya. When Junior Mallya inherited the Kingfisher empire at 28 years old, little did he know that the company was going to be valued at a whopping Rs. 350 crores (a heck of a lot of money at the time.) He had the throne, he had the money and he had the looks. All he needed now was to create a name for himself and voila! The business was set to take off like never before!
The creation of Kingfisher Airlines
Kingfisher’s history dates all the way back to Papa Mallya’s life. Mirroring the principles of the Grinch, Papa Mallya counted his money down to every last paisa. When he passed away at the not so ripe age of 56, Mallya’s family business was an umbrella to a hoard of businesses that included industries like liquor, beer, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, paints and agriculture. When Junior Mallya took over the reigns, he took over very little from Papa Mallya (except for the money of course.)
Back then, Rs. 350 crores was almost equivalent to three times its current value, leaving the young Mallya with money and no real spending direction. The man behind Kingfisher very soon realised the money lay with the distilleries and brewery business. His first step as CEO was as flamboyant as him: to change the colours of the Kingfisher logo from black and white to extravagant colours. Slowly moving towards the skies, Mallya started the Kingfisher Airlines and even acquired his very own cricket team (which Indian man worth his salt has never harboured that particular dream?)
The dream turns sour
However, despite all his acquisitions, Junior Mallya slowly saw his dream turn into a horrible nightmare. Kingfisher Airlines was not doing as well as he wanted it to and people were starting to notice. For several years after its launch, Kingfisher Airlines continued to function normally, despite never breaking even or even earning profits. Despite the airlines never doing well, KFA received investment on a daily basis. Mallya’s endearing charm got him the much needed investors. Moving from one banker to another, Mallya ensured the valuation of KFA grew to a whopping Rs. 4,100 crores. While the bankers kept lending KFA money they did not really have means of paying back, Mallya’s debt kept rising with each day.
Trouble started brewing when the bankers finally opened their eyes to the problem KFA was slowly turning into. Months after its over the top launch, customers started complaining about the poor quality of the service. From the on ground staff to the crew on board, no one seemed to really care about the airlines they were working for. Management intervention was minimal, flight timings overlapped the competitors schedules, the frills overran the need, cost control was not enforced and maintenance repairs were excruciatingly high. All in all, Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) pushed itself toward a very obvious downfall.
When our very ignorant money lenders finally opened their eyes, KFA’s total debt was valued at a solid Rs. 9,041 crores! Looking back, people soon realised one of the major reasons for KFA’s downfall was glamour, the airline’s primary USP. Now living in debt, sin and poverty (according to the rich man anyway,) Mallya breeds the tale of every heir who squandered his father’s hard gotten wealth. Despite its quick fall to failure, KFA’s story was quite a cautionary tale, letting people know there was much more to success than just having access to money!