Vijay Mallya, the owner and boss of the Force India team, had good and bad news on Thursday.
The good news was that embarrassing protests planned for the Indian grand prix by grounded and unpaid staff of his ailing Kingfisher airline have been called off. That’s because he struck a salary deal with the disgruntled workers.
“There will (now) be no protests during F1,” an airline engineer told the Times of India.
But there was also bad news. One piece is that there is a risk his private Airbus plane will be impounded if he lands it on Friday, due to unpaid bills to India’s airline authorities. Force India’s deputy boss Bob Fernley, however, insisted Mallya is still planning to attend the grand prix.
“He won’t be at the circuit tomorrow (Friday) but he’ll arrive Saturday,” he is quoted by PA news agency.
Forbes, meanwhile, has decided that Mallya is no longer a billionaire.
“Thanks to the Almighty that Forbes has removed me from the so-called billionaires list,” he wrote on Twitter. “(It will mean) less jealousy, less frenzy and (less) wrongful attacks.”
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he is sure Mallya’s apparently declining wealth is not a threat to Force India.
“I’ve known Vijay for 30-odd years and in his business life he’s always had ups and downs,” he is quoted by the Telegraph. “I don’t think Vijay’s problem will affect the team.”