|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||₹58.15 billion (US$900 million) (2012)|
|Net income||₹−23.28 billion (US$−360 million) (2012)|
Kingfisher Airlines Limited was an airline group based in India. Its head office is in Andheri (East), Mumbai and registered office in UB City, Bengaluru. Kingfisher Airlines, through its parent company United Breweries Group, had a 50% stake in low-cost carrier Kingfisher Red. Until December 2011, Kingfisher Airlines had the second largest share in India's domestic air travel market. However, the airline had been facing financial issues for many years, and due to a severe financial crisis faced by the airline at the beginning of 2012, this share dropped to the lowest in the market in April 2012.
The airline had shut down its operations and locked out its employees for several days when on 20 October 2012 the DGCA suspended its flight certificate. The suspension resulted from the airline's failure to give an effective response to the show-cause notice issued by the DGCA. On 25 October 2012, its employees agreed to return to work. However, in February 2013 the Indian government announced the withdrawal of both domestic and international flight entitlements allocated to the airline. The CEO quit on 17 February 2014.
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 Qube in Andheri (East), Mumbai and its registered office was located in UB City, Bengaluru. Its head office was previously in the Kingfisher House in Vile Parle (East), Mumbai. In 2012 Vijay Mallya was trying to sell the Vile Parle Kingfisher House. With the freezing of the bank accounts of the airline by the Indian Income Tax Department, the airline entered a period of financial unrest.
In September 2011, the chairman and managing director of Kingfisher Airlines made following disclosure to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE): "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. It was stated by analysts and media that the company needed capital infusion to remain viable and this has pushed shares to near historic lows. Kingfisher Airlines Lenders later stated they consider that company is 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 ones survive.
Ever since the airline commenced operations in 2005, it reported losses. After acquiring Air Deccan, Kingfisher suffered a loss of over ₹10 billion (US$160 million) for three consecutive years. 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. However, Air Deccan was already making losses even before it was acquired by Kingfisher. A fact which was overlooked by Vijay Mallya and his team who never went through the books of the loss making Air Deccan. Many believe this was the deal that brought down his empire; courtesy of N M Rothschild consultants who brokered the deal. Kingfisher's position in top Indian airlines on the basis of market share had slipped to last from 2 because of the crisis. 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. Kingfisher Airlines owes ₹700 million (US$11 million) to the service tax department. Indian tax body also stated Kingfisher Airlines is delinquent 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.
As of 10 April 2012, Kingfisher Airlines served 25 domestic destinations within India. It had suspended all international operations from 10 April 2012 with the final flight between London Heathrow and Delhi. When the airline was flying its last, all routes were operated with the Airbus A320 family, ATR 42s and ATR 72 aircraft. Its first long haul destination was London, England, which was launched in September 2008. It had plans to launch new long haul flights to cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania with deliveries of new aircraft. All long haul routes used to be operated on the Airbus A330-200.
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 seats had a 48-inch seat pitch and a 126-degree seat recline. There were laptop and mobile phone chargers on every seat. Passengers could avail of the latest international newspapers and magazines. 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. Passengers also got BOSE noise cancellation headphones. Domestic Kingfisher First was only available on selected Airbus A320 family aircraft.
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. The screen was controlled by a controller-console on the seat armrest. Earcup headphones were provided free of cost to all passengers. The default channel showed, alternating every few seconds, the aeroplane's ground speed, outside temperature, altitude, distance and time to destination, the position of the aircraft on a graphical map, and one or more advertisements. Passengers were served meals on most flights. Before take-off, passengers were served bottled lemonade. Along with the headphones a pen and a keychain with the Kingfisher logo were also given.
Kingfisher Airlines acquired Bangalore based low cost carrier Air Deccan in 2007, changed its name to Simplifly Deccan and subsequently converted it to Kingfisher Red, Kingfisher Airline's low-cost class on domestic routes. A special edition of Cine Blitz magazine was the only reading material provided. Passengers could earn King Miles even when they flew Kingfisher Red, which they could redeem for free tickets to travel on Kingfisher Airlines or partner airlines. 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.
Prior to losing its A330 fleet, Kingfisher offered an international business/first product called Kingfisher First which featured full flat-bed seats with a 180-degree recline, with a seat pitch of 78 inches, and a seat width of 20-24.54 inches. Passengers were given Merino wool blankets, a Salvatore Ferragamo toiletry kit, a pyjama to change into, 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. Both Kingfisher First and Kingfisher classes featured mood lighting on the Airbus A330-200 with light schemes corresponding to the time of day and flight position.
The international Kingfisher Class (no longer available since Kingfisher lost its A330 long-haul fleet) seats offered a seat pitch of 34 inches, a seat width of 18 inches and a seat recline of 25 degrees (6 inches). Passengers received full length modacrylic blankets, full size pillows and meals. 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. It could also be controlled by a detachable remote-control console fitted in the armrest. This device could be used to control the IFE, reading-lights, play games and even has a credit-card swipe for shopping on Kingfisher's 'Air Boutique'. It also had a facility for sending text-messages, though the service wasn't provided by Kingfisher.
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. All passengers were given a "welcome kit" consisting of goodies such as a pen, facial tissue and headphones to use with the IFE system. Before Kingfisher shutdown, passengers of Kingfisher class were not given "welcome kits" but, as mentioned earlier, a complimentary bottle of lemonade and earphones for use with the IFE were still given until shutdown. 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. And in a marked departure from tradition, Kingfisher Airlines decided to have an on-screen safety demonstration using the IFE system, however the conventional safety briefing by the flight attendants still existed on many flights.
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 for 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 3 Kingfisher First upgrade vouchers for Gold membership. Platinum members got 5 upgrade vouchers.
Kingfisher Xpress was a Door-to-Door cargo delivery service from Kingfisher Airlines. Kingfisher Xpress same day service would have been India's first and only same day delivery by air service. The service offered a pick up facility in the 8 main metropolitan cities of India namely Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Kolkata with guaranteed same day delivery in up to 22 cities of India namely Ahmedabad, Bagdogra, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Kochi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi, Lucknow, Nagpur, Pune, Srinagar and Tiruvanathapuram.
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:
Media related to Kingfisher Airlines at Wikimedia Commons