|Commenced operations||9 May 2005|
|Hubs||Bengaluru International Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||King Club|
|Company slogan||Fly The Good Times|
|Parent company||United Breweries Group|
|Revenue||₹25,982.78 crore (US$4.0 billion) (2012)|
|Net income||₹8,765.9 crore (US$1.3 billion) (2012)|
Until December 2011, Kingfisher Airlines had the second largest share in India's domestic air travel market. However, the airline ran into continuous losses since its inception, ran high debts and finally closed its operations in 2012. Its chairman Vijay Mallya subsequently fled to London to hide from debtors and the people of India.
Kingfisher Airlines was established in 2003. It was owned by the Bengaluru based United Breweries Group. The airline started commercial operations on 9 May 2005 with a fleet of four new Airbus A320-200s operating a flight from Mumbai to Delhi. It started its international operations on 3 September 2008 by connecting Bengaluru with London. Kingfisher's head office was located in the Kingfisher House in Vile Parle (East), Mumbai, but later moved to The Qube in Andheri (East), Mumbai. Its registered office was located in UB City, Bengaluru. In November 2005, during the World economic forum, the airlines CEO Vijay Mallya announced the airlines intention to launch an IPO to raise 200 million dollars for the airlines expansion and possible takeovers (including that of Air Sahara which was beign eyed at that time). It later transpired that the airlines was already heavily in debt and going each year in heavy losses.
Ever since the airline commenced operations in 2005, it reported losses. The acquisition of loss-making Bangalore-based Air Deccan in 2007 made matters worse. It was believed that Vijay Mallya and his team failed to do due diligence on the airline and that it was this deal that brought down his empire; courtesy of N M Rothschild consultants who brokered the deal. An initial name change to Simplifly Deccan, followed by Kingfisher Red, and promotion as the domestic budget Kingfisher airline failed to stem losses and Kingfisher suffered a loss of over ₹10 billion (US$150 million) for three consecutive years.
On 28 September 2011, Vijay Mallya announced that the company would soon stop operations of Kingfisher Red as it did not believe in low-cost operations any longer. In a disclosure statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), he explained: "The company has incurred substantial losses and its net worth has been eroded. However, having regard to improvement in the economic sentiment, rationalization measures adopted by the company, fleet recovery and the implementation of the debt recast package with the lenders and promoters including conversion of debt into share capital, these interim financial statements have been prepared on the basis that the company is a going concern and that no adjustments are required to the carrying value of assets and liabilities." This filing was widely covered by Indian and international print and electronic media and analysts. Kingfisher Airlines Lenders later stated they considered the company viable. On 15 November 2011 the airline released poor financial results, indicating that it was "drowning in high-interest debt and losing money". Mallya indicated that his solution was for the government to reduce fuel and other taxes. The government was engaged in assessing whether to bail out the company and other airlines or let market forces determine which survived.
In December 2011, for the second time in two months, Kingfisher's bank accounts were frozen by the Mumbai Income Tax department for non-payment of dues. It owed ₹700 million (US$11 million) to the service tax department at the time.
By early 2012, the airline accumulated losses of over ₹70 billion (US$1.1 billion) with half of its fleet grounded and several members of its staff going on strike. Kingfisher's position in top Indian airlines on the basis of market share had slipped to last from 2 because of the crisis. Mallya was looking for buyers for the Vile Parle Kingfisher House. With the freezing of the bank accounts of the airline by the Indian Income Tax Department, the airline was in financial disarray.
On 20 October 2012, Kingfisher's licence was suspended by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after it failed to address the Indian regulator's concerns about its operations. On 25 February 2013, its international flying rights and domestic slots were scrapped by the Indian aviation authorities.
The airline's first long-haul destination was London, England, which was launched in September 2008. It had plans to launch long-haul flights to cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania with deliveries of new aircraft. All long-haul routes were operated on the Airbus A330-200.
On the day of suspension of all international operations, 10 April 2012, Kingfisher Airlines served 25 domestic destinations within India. At that time, all routes were operated with the Airbus A320 family, ATR 42s and ATR 72 aircraft.
Prior to the suspension from IATA, Kingfisher had codeshare agreements with:
Kingfisher Airlines' fleet mainly consisted of ATR 42, ATR 72 and Airbus A320 family aircraft for domestic and short-haul services; and, Airbus A330-200s for international long-haul services. The ATRs and a few aircraft from the A320 family were used for Kingfisher Red services. In March 2012, Kingfisher Airlines had the following, already heavily downsized fleet:
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The domestic Kingfisher First, offered on some Airbus A320 family aircraft only, provided seats with a 48-inch pitch and 126-degree recline. There were laptop and mobile phone chargers on every seat. There was also a steam ironing service on board Kingfisher First cabins. Every seat was equipped with a personalised IFE system with AVOD which offered a wide range of Hollywood and Bollywood movies, English and Hindi TV programmes, 16 live TV channels and 10 channels of Kingfisher Radio.
The domestic Kingfisher Class had 32-34 inch seat pitch. Every seat was equipped with personal IFE systems with AVOD on board the Airbus A320 family aircraft. As in Kingfisher First, passengers could access movies, English and Hindi TV programmes, a few live TV channels powered by DishTV, and Kingfisher Radio. Passengers were served meals on most flights. Before take-off, passengers were served bottled lemonade.
Kingfisher offered an international business/first product called Kingfisher First which featured full flat-bed seats with 180-degree recline, pitch of 78 inches and width of 20-24.54 inches. Passengers were given Merino wool blankets, a Salvatore Ferragamo toiletry kit, pyjamas, five-course meals and alcoholic beverages. Also available were in-seat massagers, chargers and USB connectors. Every Kingfisher First seat had a 17-inch widescreen personal television with AVOD touchscreen controls and offered 357 hours of programming content spread over 36 channels, including Hollywood and Bollywood movies along with 16 channels of live TV, so passengers could watch their favorite TV programmes live. There was also a collection of interactive games, a jukebox with customisable playlists and Kingfisher Radio. Passengers are given BOSE noise cancellation headphones. The service on board the Kingfisher First cabins included a social area comprising a full-fledged bar staffed with a bartender, a break-out seating area just nearby fitted with two couches and bar stools, a full-fledged chef on board the aircraft and any-time dining. A turn-down service included the conversion of the seat into a fully flat bed and an air-hostess making the bed when the passenger is ready to sleep.
The international Kingfisher Class seats offered a pitch of 34 inches, width of 18 inches and recline of 25 degrees (6 inches). Passengers received full-length modacrylic blankets and full-size pillows. Each Kingfisher Class seat had a 10.6 inch widescreen personal television with AVOD touchscreen controls. The IFE was similar to that of the international Kingfisher First class.
Kingfisher's IFE system was the Thales TopSeries i3000/i4000 on board the Airbus A320 family aircraft, and Thales TopSeries i5000 on board the Airbus A330 family aircraft provided by the France-based Thales Group. Kingfisher was the first Indian airline to have in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems on every seat even on domestic flights. The inflight magazines were special editions of magazines owned by Mallya's media publishing house (VJM Media) viz. Hi! Blitz for domestic flights and Hi! Living for international flights. Initially, passengers were able to watch only recorded TV programming on the IFE system, but later an alliance was formed with Dish TV to provide live TV in-flight.
The frequent-flyer program of Kingfisher Airlines was called the King Club in which members earned King Miles every time they flew with Kingfisher or its partner airlines, hotels, car rental, finance and lifestyle businesses. There were four levels in the scheme: Red, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. Members could redeem points over a number of schemes. Platinum, Gold and Silver members enjoyed access to the Kingfisher Lounge, priority check-in, excess baggage allowance, bonus miles, and Kingfisher First upgrade vouchers.
Kingfisher Xpress was a Door-to-Door cargo delivery service launched in February 2010, being the first such service in India promising same-day pick-up in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata and delivery in up to 18 cities, namely, Bagdogra, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Kochi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Raipur, Ranchi, Lucknow, Nagpur, Pune and Srinagar. A money-back guarantee was offered.
Kingfisher Lounges were offered to Kingfisher First passengers, along with King Club Silver and King Club Gold members. Lounges were located in:
According to the airline, it received numerous awards and accolades:
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