Kingfisher Airlines, the airline group owned by Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya has been in the headlines once again, as concerns continue to mount over the airline’s financial health and – in turn – the health of his Silverstone-based Formula 1 team.
The cash-strapped airline has been on struggle street for months, with those who can get out with any dignity (or money) bailing as quickly as possible.
Mallya remains at the controls, seemingly oblivious to the inevitable wreck that everyone believes will await him. Granted, Mallya is blessed with a gift of the gab, but even his latest protestations that claim the situation is entirely the fault of the media are proving too hard to swallow.
The debts of Kingfisher Airlines are so tied up with his other companies – particularly United Breweries – that it’s hard to see how the airline’s inevitable collapse won’t impact his other business ventures. This has to be extremely worrying for the folks in Silverstone, who have designed and built the cars that effectively serve as billboards for the Mallya empire.
Banks are refusing to loan him any more money, and the airline is losing planes, flights, staff and customers at a rapid rate of knots.
If the airline collapsed, it’s hard to see how this won’t affect his Grand Prix team, and it’s equally difficult to see what Force India’s new co-owner – billionaire businessman Roy Subrata Sahara – will do to keep the project going.
Outside of his considerable investment in the team, Sahara is seemingly no more than a ‘name partner’ in the operation. He has shown next to no interest in Formula 1, but there has to be some method in Sahara’s decision to buy into the team.
What Force India needs to keep it on its upwards trajectory is investment and stability. It remains to be seen who exactly will be able to provide that. The men and women in the factory deserve this, at least.
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