New Delhi: Embattled Force India team boss Vijay Mallya made his Indian Grand Prix entrance in combative mood on Saturday, lashing local media for their coverage of his business troubles and grounded Kingfisher airline. The liquor and aviation tycoon, no longer a billionaire according to the latest Forbes list, flew in from London on his private Airbus after suggestions that he might stay away to avoid having it impounded.
"Was there any doubt about my presence here?" he told Reuters, minutes after walking through the paddock turnstiles with cars roaring around the Buddh circuit as final practice got under way. Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines had its licence suspended by the civil aviation authorities last week and has not flown since the start of October after a protest by employees, unpaid since March, turned violent.
The airline has never turned a profit and, according to the consultancy Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, has total debt estimated at about $ 2.5 billion. Mallya has not been seen in India for weeks and the airlines troubles, as well as a threat of protests by Kingfisher employees outside the Formula One circuit, have led to speculation about whether he would return for the race.
"You believe that Indian papers have any credibility?," said Mallya, bristling when asked about the recent coverage of his affairs. "There is no libel law in India so there is nothing you can do to bring them to book," he added, accusing his media critics of 'cooking up
01:33 PM, Oct 27, 2012