A new low-cost carrier called Kingfisher is to be launched in India following a 12-aircraft deal worth $750 million with Airbus, unveiled at the show yesterday.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) covers orders for four A320 single-aisle aircraft, with options on a further eight of the same type. Kingfisher - named after India's renowned beer - will also lease four more A320s.

The deal was signed on the same day that another Airbus deal - with Turkish Airlines - was confirmed. The 36-aircraft agreement is worth $2.8 billion and was first revealed in Flight Daily News on Monday.

Yesterday's MoU was signed between Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy and Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman of the UB Group, parent company of Kingfisher.

"Kingfisher is a well-recognised brand, both in India and internationally, standing for exuberance and lifestyle, combined with a long-standing credibility built over many decades," said Mallya. "These qualities will be integral to the Kingfisher Airlines platform of 'fly the good times'."

Kingfisher beer, like other Indian brands, has suffered from India's alcohol advertising ban, said Mallya. The result is a 30-year campaign to build "lifestyle" themes around the name. The new airline will add to that mix which already features music and fashion. "We have built Kingfisher into a lifestyle statement," he said.

He explained the failure of an earlier airline venture by the group - UB Airlines - as the result of the Indian government liberalising the regulatory regime but failing to legislate quickly enough to underwrite the move.


The group had wanted to allow the private airline market to "evolve and develop" before making a new foray into the business. Now several private start-ups had demonstrated that the time was right, he said.

"We believe there is a market for value carriers. I do not intend to fly anybody for $5. We do not intend to start a trade war in India," he said. Kingfisher will begin operations next year with the A320 which, Mallya said, offered the best seating capacity (180 all-economy) and the lowest operating costs.

Another reason was that Indian Airlines was the launch customer for the type, which meant there were a lot of pilots in India with experience on the aircraft.

Looking ahead, Mallya said that after the first 12 purchased aircraft were in service, he could see a fleet of up to 20 within 3-5 years.



Source: Flight Daily News