How namma Vijay floored namma Gopinath

Captain G.R. Gopinath, the founder of India’s first lowcost airline has penned his story.

Titled ‘Simplify Fly (HarperCollins), the autobiography includes this passage (excerpted in the latest issue of Business Today magazine) on how Air Deccan eventually landed in Vijay Mallya‘s stable.

“Vijay Mallya called me a little after 10. He spoke endearingly and in a spirit of camaraderie. He said, ‘I know you have shaken hands with Reliance. It doesn’t matter what they have offered you. I am willing to better every term in the deal. You quote the price. I will not negotiate. Let us do the deal.”

“Mallya was calling from Monte Carlo where his $100 million personal yacht, the Indian Empress, was berthed. He was hosting his famed annual party on the eve of the Formula One race. He said: ‘I am at the dinner with a host of VIPs. The Prince of Monaco is here, the stars of Formula One are here. I am calling you in the midst of all this because it is very important to me. Please make a note of all the major terms of the deal. I will call later.’

“The phone rang at about 4 am.

“I said, ‘Vijay, I want you to know this is serious. I’ve already shaken hands with Anil Ambani, but they need 5-6 days more….”

“Mallya spoke to me in Kannada. He was disarming in his tone. He sounded urgent and winsome. He said it was his philosophy to address all the segments of the market: low, middle and high. He had done this with whisky and with beer. He said he was aware of my commitment to a lowcost airline and he respected that. Together, we would be good for the industry. However, with Reliance’s entry into the fray, the bloodbath would continue. Our coming together would altogether transform the scene.

“Mallya asked me if I had the list ready. I read out my list, which included conditions that would deter Mallya. I said: ‘If you are serious about investing in Deccan, you will have to make a deposit of Rs 200 crore immediately’.”

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