x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Indian magnate Mallya's arrest warrant withdrawn: reports

An arrest warrant for Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya over bounced cheques written by his troubled Kingfisher Airlines has been withdrawn after the carrier agreed to pay the sums due.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) said it withdrew its case against Vijay Mallya after his Kingfisher Airlines agreed to pay more than 100 million rupees (Dh6.9m) in owed service charges.
GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) said it withdrew its case against Vijay Mallya after his Kingfisher Airlines agreed to pay more than 100 million rupees (Dh6.9m) in owed service charges.

NEW DELHI // An arrest warrant for Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya over bounced cheques written by his troubled airline has been withdrawn after the carrier agreed to pay the sums due.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) said it withdrew its case against Mr Mallya after his Kingfisher Airlines agreed to pay more than 100 million rupees (Dh6.9m) in owed service charges.

"The case [against Kingfisher and Mallya] has been withdrawn," JB Chenna Keshava Rao, one of GMR's lawyers, said on Wednesday.

"The matter has been settled by our client [GMR with Kingfisher] ... They asked us to withdraw the case after which we informed the court about withdrawal of the case which has been agreed upon," Mr Rao said.

The court had also issued warrants last week against several senior airline executives in what was seen as dramatic escalation of the crisis facing Mr Mallya's cash-strapped carrier.

The warrants were issued after GHIAL filed a complaint over alleged bounced cheques totalling 105 million rupees for landing and other user fees at the Hyderabad airport.

The Economic Times newspaper quoted another GMR lawyer as saying "the warrants issued against Vijay Mallya and other senior KFA (Kingfisher Airlines) officials were withdrawn".

Mr Mallya inherited his father's beer business and built it into an empire spanning fertilisers, top European alcohol brands, Formula One team Force India and a cricket club, Royal Challengers Bangalore.

But Mr Mallya, 56, who is also an independent member of parliament, has come unstuck with Kingfisher, which took to the skies in 2005 but never made a profit.

Reports that the case against Mr Mallya had been withdrawn came after talks on Wednesday between striking staff and Kingfisher over unpaid wages ended without an agreement.

The strike by employees, who have not received salaries for seven months, has forced the airline to ground all its planes since October 1.

The meeting in Mumbai "made good progress" but more talks will have to be held, likely next Monday, Kingfisher's chief executive, Sanjay Aggarwal, said.

India's civil aviation regulator recently issued a notice asking why Kingfisher's licence should not be cancelled.

Mr Mallya has been scouting for a foreign airline to pump in capital to keep Kingfisher aloft. But analysts doubt any carrier will want to take a stake in the carrier whose debts were estimated in a consultancy report at US$2.5 billion (Dh9.18bn).

The company was India's second-largest airline until a year ago but just before the strike had a market share of 3.2 per cent, making it the smallest.