Kingfisher Airlines Nosedives: Can It Soar Again or Will It Remain Grounded?
This case is based on Kingfisher Airlines, the brainchild of Dr. Vijay Mallaya. It made a grand entrance into the Indian aviation industry as a single-class, all-economy air carrier in 2005. The company soon turned its focus to becoming a premium service operator offering high-class in-flight services and unrivalled luxuries. Subsequently, it took a number of steps to differentiate itself from other airlines, while also embarking upon an ambitious expansion plan. Its acquisition of an ailing airline, Air Deccan, combined with rising fuel costs and a rapidly changing business environment made its survival difficult. The company's bank accounts were frozen several times by the Income Tax Department and the Service Tax Department because of defaults on tax payments, leaving it cash dry. The battered airline had to temporarily suspend its operations from several cities and cope with a staggering debt load that had reached Rs. 7,000 crore by March 27, 2012. The staff was demoralized and some employees left the company due to the non-payment of salaries. There was also widespread anger among passengers owing to last-minute flight cancellations. The challenge facing its CEO, Sanjay Agarwal, was to make Kingfisher Airlines bounce back from its precarious position. The company had to tackle the issue of raising funds to meet its day-to-day expenses, maintain the current number of flights and perhaps also conduct a thorough review of its past policies and strategies and try to learn from the competitors that had managed to weather the storm and still remain profitable in the most unfavourable of business environments.