Mr ‘King of Good Times’, what about your customers?

New Delhi: The Twitter handle of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who owes Rs 9,000 crore to a group of banks, has sprung back to life. On Tuesday, he released a two-year-old letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he was “making every effort” to settle his dues to banks but he had been made the “Poster Boy” of bank default. He said that he sympathises with Kingfisher Airline (KFA) employees over non-payment of salaries.

But what about the thousands of customers who booked their tickets with the airlines and are still waiting for their refund?

Even after several months of closing their operations, several customers are waiting for their cancellation refund. These customers have written various mails to the company and now plan to file an FIR and move the court demanding compensation.

According to an estimate, thousands of flyers had booked their tickets with Kingfisher airlines in advance but could never fly as the airlines suddenly stopped their operations.

While most travel firms were not willing to disclose the figure, a person familiar with the matter said the refunds amounted to several crores of rupees. Customers and several travel agencies are the newest to join the queue of creditors, after employees, airports and lenders. “There are huge refunds against cancelled flights that are yet to be given by the airline,” said an industry insider.

Online forums are full of complaints against the airlines where people even after six years of closure of business are writing their grievances.

On Tuesday, Mallya issued a statement in which he claimed that instead of the Rs 9,000 crore bank default he is accused of, a value that includes the interest, he took a loan of only Rs 5,500 crore, of which nearly Rs 1,300 crore was paid back, and he had offered to pay another Rs 4,400 crore but was rejected by the banks—an act, he says, does not entitle him to be called a wilful bank defaulter.

He also said that he sympathises with Kingfisher Airline (KFA) employees over non-payment of salaries and United Breweries had made an application to the Supreme Court in 2014 to pay a part of the salaries to the KFA employees since KFA was in no financial position to do so.

The liquor baron flew to the UK in 2016 and has been fighting against moves to extradite him to India to face trial.


Shashank Shekhar

About Shashank Shekhar

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Shashank Shekhar works as a Deputy Editor for DB Post. He specialises in investigative, terrorism, internal security and policy-making related stories. He has an active interest in tracking cybercrime, financial fraud, technology, automobile and latest trends. He can be reached at: shashank.shekhar3@bdcorp.in Follow him on Twitter @shashankrnq