Mallya’s private jet lies unsold at Mumbai airport for 9 months


MUMBAI: Former UB group chairman Vijay Mallya certainly didn’t leave India on this jet plane. His private jet, an Airbus 319 (with call sign VT-VJM) continues to lie parked in a hangar of the Mumbai International Airport (Mial). It has been nine months since the Bombay high court allowed the service tax authorities to auction it to recover its dues worth Rs 50 crore.

The jet, which has top-ofthe-range comfort with generous seat width even in its standard 124-seat configuration, found no buyer in the only auction conducted after the high court order on August14, 2015, saidsources. In 2015, a new jet of the same make was priced at $89 million. Mallya flew out of the country on March2, 2016,the day banks movedthedebt recovery tribunal to have his passport impounded to help them recover their loans.

The jet remains detained and grounded, rent-free, occupying precious parking space at the Mumbai airport. One of the reasons for the plane not getting any buyer, said a source, was that the newowner would needto inject at least $10 million to make it airworthy as itis not being used.

The jet was attached by the service tax authorities in 2014 for its dues, and Mial moved the high court to get it removedfrom its premises as it was not earning any rent on it. “We will recover our dues for parking later,” Mial had said in the court through its counsel Dinyar Madon.

CJ Leasing (Cayman) then movedthehighcourtin 2015, saying it was the owner of the plane, which it had leased to Kingfisher Airlines. Through its counsel Darius Khambata, CJ Leasing objected to the sale of the aircraft initially. However, after Mial made a case for its sale, the company agreed to auction by the Service Tax Commissioner but on the condition that the proceeds would be deposited with the highcourt’s registry and not used to pay off the airline’s debt.

P S Jetley, counsel for the service tax department, however, sought time to appoint a government-approved auctioneer capable of conducting a global auction for the aircraft, saying at least two monthswouldbe needed to conduct evaluation.

The airline’s counsel, Milind Sathe, had assured that maintenance records of the aircraft would be furnished for evaluation.

In the HC, a consortium of lenders led by State Bank of India had also claimed first charge by way of mortgage on all assets of Kingfisher Airlines, excluding aircraft and assets which have been taken by the airline on hire basis.


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