Jet Airways crisis: “Discrimination”, says Mallya; “Air India was bailed out with public money”
London, Apr 17: The crisis in the Jet Airways which has brought the cash-strapped airline to the brink of closure has prompted fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to point finger at the alleged "discrimination" by the government which, according to former Kingfisher airlines boss, bailed out Air India using public funds.
Last month, Mallya had blamed banks for letting "India's finest airline" close its operations and said his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines too could have been bailed out by lenders. His remark came a day after the government announced that banks will infuse Rs 1,500 crore to save Jet Airways from debt crisis.
"Even though Jet was a major competitor to Kingfisher at the time I feel sorry to see such a large private airline on the brink of failure when Government used 35K crores of public funds to bail out Air India. Just being a PSU is no excuse for discrimination," Mallya tweeted.
In another tweet, Mallya asked as to why so many Airlines have "bitten the dust in India" and also expresses solidarity with Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal.
"Even though we were fierce competitors, my sympathies go out to Naresh and Neeta Goyal who built Jet Airways that India should be extremely proud of. Fine Airline providing vital connectivity and class service. Sad that so many Airlines have bitten the dust in India. Why ?" he said.
Mallya remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard in April 2017. He has recently submitted a "renewal application" in the UK High Court, making another attempt at appealing against his extradition to India to face fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crores.
"I invested hugely into Kingfisher which rapidly grew to become India's largest and most awarded airline. True, Kingfisher borrowed from PSU Banks as well. I have offered to pay back 100 percent but am being criminally charged instead. Airline Karma ?..Every time I say that I am willing to pay 100 per cent back to the PSU Banks, media say I am spooked, terrified etc of extradition from the U.K. to India. I am willing to pay either way whether I am in London or in an Indian Jail. Why don't Banks take the money I offered first ?" he said in series of tweets.
Mallya, known for his lavish lifestyle, left India in March 2016 owing crores after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.
Meanwhile, Jet's board on Tuesday morning discussed the management's proposal for grounding of operations. CEO Vinay Dube was asked to reach out to banks once more. But lenders stuck to their demand for higher collateral before giving more loans.
Jet continued to fly seven aircraft till late evening but the management warned it may not be able to do so for long. The airline's shares plunged while those of rivals such as IndiGo and SpiceJet climbed.