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Mumbai A’Port seizes Kingfisher aircraft as Etihad eyes stake

Authorities at Mumbai  Airport have seized several aircraft belonging to Kingfisher Airlines over non-payment of airport taxes, as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said it was looking to buy a stake in Vijay Mallya’s troubled carrier.

Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said it had seized seven aircraft after serving two separate notices to Kingfisher demanding payment for dues totalling nearly £6.3 million.

An MIAL official told an Indian news agency: “Until the long-pending dues are cleared, we shall not let them fly these aircraft, which are in our control,” an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

The taxes are said to relate to parking charges, navigation and other services offered by the airport.

Owned by drinks baron MP Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher has been grounded since Oct 1 due to financial and labour problems.
Kingfisher has not commented on this latest development.

Meanwhile, Etihad Airways is set to buy a 48% stake in Kingfisher for just over £355 million, according to a report in the Mumbai Mirror.

A formal announcement of the deal could come around December 18, the birthday of chairman Mallya.

Battling stiff competition and high operating costs, Indian carriers have been in talks to sell minority stakes to foreign investors.

Etihad was reported to be eyeing buying a stake in Jet Airways, India’s largest airline by total passengers carried.

Kingfisher, which Mallya launched with much fanfare in 2005, was once India’s second-largest airline by domestic market share.

For most of this year, the carrier has struggled to pay its staff and has not flown since early October due to protests and safety concerns.

According to one estimate, it is saddled with roughly $2.5 billion in debt.

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