Monday, November 14, 2016

Level flight: Charting India's airline course

Last month, Jet Airways introduced wide-body services on two of its busiest domestic routes — Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi — in a move that significantly enhanced connectivity, besides boosting capacity on these key sectors.

The double-aisle Airbus A330 that was deployed, puts the airline in a niche club of Indian carriers that boast of such large aircraft (Jet Airways has Boeing 777s too), enabling them to fly long routes, non-stop. Only in this case, the airline found huge demand in the domestic market itself, compelling it to ply one of its big boys.

According to Jet Airways Chief Commercial Officer Jayaraj Shanmugam, “The Indian domestic sector is witnessing breakneck growth in demand. Our fleet mix comprising both wide-body and narrow-body aircraft is our strength, and helps us respond to market conditions and provide enhanced travel options to our guests.”

Joining Jet Airways in the wide-body boat is flag carrier Air India, which boasts of wide connectivity to Europe and the US, thanks to its fleet of Boeing 747s, 777s, and 787s. Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani says, “Our profitability mantra is ‘fill more, fly more!’ We are bullish on increasing occupancy and flying to more destinations.”

Indeed, India has taken off to a flying start with a burgeoning airline industry. The sector has opened to a big blue sky of opportunities, owing to a series of measures taken by the government, along with the economy itself welcoming several trends that have propelled it further.

Amar Abrol, the CEO of young budget carrier AirAsia India, explains that India’s civil aviation industry is on a high-growth trajectory. “India aims to become the third-largest aviation market by 2020, and the largest by 2030. Factors such as low-cost carriers, FDI in domestic airlines, advanced IT interventions and growing emphasis on regional connectivity have given a new lease of life to the growth of the Indian aviation sector,” he opines.

Despite such high scope for growth, the airline industry throws many questions that require some deep thought and analysis. It is imperative to understand the uniqueness of this market, as well as introspect its challenges, and find solutions.
14/11/16 Hrithik Kiran Bagade/Deccan Herald

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