NEW DELHI: Liquor baron Vijay Mallya is out shopping again. And this time round, Mallya has set his sights on an US-based premium-class-only airline MAXjet Airways to fuel his dreams of taking Kingfisher Airlines international.
Mallya is in advanced talks with MAXjet for an outright acquisition - a deal that would give his Kingfisher Airlines rights to mount transatlantic flights and even operate between US and India, sources close to the development told ToI. The deal is expected to be concluded over few months.
Mallya, sources said, intends to also use the MAXjet acquisition to start direct flights between US and India under the bilateral Open Sky arranement between the two nations. "Negotiations are underway and they are at an advanced stage.
If the deal comes through, Kingfisher would be able to operate international flights using the MAXjet fleet from next year and augment the operations with its own long-haul jets that join its fleet from 2008,"the sources said.
Mallya confirmed the acquisition plan but refused to divulge details about his target airline. "We are talking with four US airlines for our international acquisition and MAXjet is one of them. The talks are still at a preliminary stage and nothing has been decided so far,"he said.
The acquisition, sources said, is aimed at cruising past the Indian regulation that restricts international flights only to airlines that have a five-year domestic flight track record. The purchase is expected to be carried out through his US-based venture - Kingfisher International Airlines (KIA) - in order to meet the law of the land.
US norms do not allow foreign ownership of airlines in America. Since Mallya's children - Sidhartha, Leana and Tanya - own a majority 75% stake in KIA as American citizens, this venture would meet the US regulation on ownership of airlines, sources said....