Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mallya takes on the Media

After many articles covering KFA's troubles, the media frenzy regarding this issue hit its peak after news that Mr. Mallya is allegedly negotiating a bailout package. Key people in the Govt (The PM, no less) spoke about the need step in which outraged many. How can taxpayer's money be used to save a private company, they asked. 

While following the developments, I wondered how the flamboyant man would react to all this. The response was measured. First his friends addressed the battle field. Suhel Seth and others spoke rationally and articulately about the problems surrounding KFA and the ills of the airlines industry at large. 

Then the man himself came out. The press seemed hostile, but Mallya composed.

He might have been fighting for his airline's survival, negotiating a "bail-out" package or partying with the Calender girls, you wouldn't have known by watching this interview. Among all his sporting interests, he would make (or probably is) a bloody good poker player.

Then he attacked the Media: 

@thevijaymallya: "Watching media reports n analysis that share prices of United Spirits fell due to Airline fears. How flawed. United Spirits is liquid gold"
"World largest plane lessor speaks 2 ET Delhi- full support 4 Kingfisher. Not published. Instead ET Mumbai correspondent ignores n attacks !"

Mallya's companies are one of the key advertisers for the Indian media. So it is very difficult to buy these arguments. I feel the TV media at least has been measured and cautious in its attack of KFA. They get facts wrong most time. They pronounce their verdict before hearing the case most times. But the slightest mention of "Bailout" got a swift response from Mallya. And soon enough, most of them corrected.

Either ways, the media seems to have moved on (in search of the next scam), with Mallya emerging the clear winner in this round. He and his airlines are hear to stay. For now at least.

In between this drama surrounding the media coverage for the last two weeks, KFA has achieved three things:

(a) Got Kingfisher out of some of the non-profitable routes, without much hue and cry from the government. Make no mistake, some passengers will suffer. But of the important reason why Indigo is profitable, is that they run only on profitable routes. 

(b) Its now become common knowledge that there is problem with the punishing taxes that the center/states levy. That Air India is also bleeding is a concern to the government. So if the government relaxes the taxes, they are less likely to get the "You are taking measures for private greed, what have you done for the common man" argument. Not sure they will be touching this though.

(c) Made it a bit easier for those lobbying for increase in FDI in airlines sector. India badly needs Reforms 2.0 and the Airline industry is in pole position to be freed up.

Final thought - 
@TheVijayMallya "If our Government has denied FDI by Airlines in Indian carriers on security grounds, how come we have expat non Indian Airline CEO's ?" On the Spice Jet CEO

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