Tuesday, October 09, 2018

This strategy of IndiGo to beat competitors has not got much attention

In the second half of 2009, Kingfisher Airlines was forced to shrink from over 85 aircraft to 66 aircraft. Grappling with losses and engine issues, the once flamboyant airline was struggling to maintain its schedule.

The airline withdrew one of its popular flights on the Delhi – Kolkata sector in the evenings. The flight IT 605 operated from Chandigarh to Kolkata via Delhi, offering passengers a peak evening departure between Delhi and Kolkata. It was one of the three daily flights the airline operated on the sector.

Within days of the closure of the flight for sale, IndiGo, then a fledgling airline that was already present with three flights a day on the sector, pushed one of its flights to a departure time similar to what Kingfisher operated. These were the first signs of how cutthroat the airline was intending to be in the long run. Since its inception 2006, slot by slot, flight by flight, sector by sector, the low-cost airline has been chasing every rival the country has seen.

IndiGo of 2018 is different than what it was in 2009. From a budding entity content with cautious expansion to an ambitious, even audacious, beast that announces a new station once a month, the airline has come a long way. But one thing has remained constant –chasing competition.

This strategy came to the fore last week. IndiGo announced flights to Phuket and Male. Social media was abuzz. It has hardly been a month since GoAir announced its international foray. No prizes for guessing GoAir’s inaugural two destinations. Just days away from its first international flight, GoAir would now face competition in what was to be a monopoly route.

For IndiGo, this was not the first  — nor it would be the last — occasion that it would follow a strategy called network mirroring. Put simply, network mirroring is a practice in which an airline follows another airline on the same sector often at the same timings and with similar start dates. It is typically followed by airlines that have a huge fleet at its disposal. IndiGo has 191 aircraft .
09/10/18 Ameya Joshi/CNBC TV18