Order to arrest India Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya
Image caption Legal experts say Vijay Mallya is unlikely to be arrested soon

A court in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad has issued an arrest warrant for Vijay Mallya, owner of the cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines.

The warrant relates to a case brought by Hyderabad International Airport after cheques, worth 103m rupees ($1.9m; £1.2m), bounced.

Kingfisher has struggled to repay its debts. The money owed in this case was reportedly to cover airport charges.

Legal experts say it is unlikely that Mr Mallya will be arrested imminently.

They say Mr Mallya will probably be summoned to court at an agreed future date and is likely to get bail.

This arrest warrant was only issued when Mr Mallya failed to appear in court, despite a summons issued to him after the cheques bounced.

Mr Mallya, the crisis-hit airline's flamboyant owner, is also an MP in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, as well as the chairman of the United Breweries group, India's largest brewing company, which makes Kingfisher beer.

The UB Group, Kingfisher Airlines's parent company, said in a statement that it had "not been served with any warrants".

Meanwhile, Kingfisher has extended its shutdown until 20 October after failing to persuade its striking staff to return to work.

The airline grounded its fleet on 1 October after some workers went on strike protesting against months of unpaid wages.

Kingfisher has been struggling with a cash shortage and has reported losses for five years in a row.

In July, the airline was forced to cancel 40 flights after staff went on strike, again over the airline's failure to pay months of wages.

After the government relaxed investment rules last month allowing foreign airlines to buy up to a 49% stake in domestic carriers in India, Mr Mallya said discussions were taking place which could allow overseas operators to invest in the airline.

But analysts say that the current disruption and safety concerns could hurt efforts to win the investment that could save the airline from collapse.

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