Kingfisher, the Indian domestic airline owned by drinks firm UB Group, which also produces the lager of the same name, is set to begin flights to the UK this summer.
The Bangalore-based carrier has obtained two slots at Heathrow and is believed to be in negotiations to take over a second pair of slots from Dutch carrier KLM.
Chairman Vijay Mallya says flights to the UK will begin “by the end of August [or the] first week of September”. He says he is undeterred by the high price of oil and he adds: “A sound India UK service is something that has good potential.”
The airline was launched in 2005 and currently flies to 38 destinations in India. It announced its intention to begin flying international routes to the UK and US earlier this year. Kingfisher is one of only six carriers to have been awarded five stars by airline rating company Skytrax.
Mallya, one of India’s most flamboyant entrepreneurs, is chairman of both UB Group and Kingfisher Airlines, and a co-owner of the Force India Formula 1 team.
He backed the Bangalore Royal Challengers cricket franchise in this year’s inaugural Indian Premier League tournament. The side is named after a UB Group liquor brand.
The UB Group also purchased the Scottish distiller Whyte and Mackay in May 2007 for £595m.