Friday, December 07, 2018

Be prepared for Jet Airways version 5.0

While Jet Airways is undergoing tough times, one thing I got to hand to them is the fact that they’ve still been in business for over 25 years. Roughly first fifteen years on their own terms, and then on others terms though.

Jet Airways 1.0 was the original Jet Airways which became the talk of the town for all the right reasons. Launched by Naresh Goyal himself, it went on to set a high bar of hospitality and got people to switch from Air India (Indian Airlines then).

Jet Airways 2.0 existed roughly between 2006 and 2009, where Jet Airways acquired Air Sahara, turned it into JetLite, and launched JetKonnect. There were three variants of Jet Airways in the air, and you got some features on some aircraft and some others on flights. They even code-shared with arch-rival Kingfisher Airlines for a while. Passenger amenities such as meals on board were cut as well.

Jet Airways 3.0 was the carrier selling a part of their equity and majority of the JetPrivilege programme to Etihad and participating in Etihad Airways Partners (EAP). They launched a slew of flights to Abu Dhabi, which would transfer passengers on Etihad. Eventually, EAP fizzled out, so much so that they quietly removed all the Etihad branding from all of Jet Airways marketing collateral. The multitude of flights to Abu Dhabi waned too.

Jet Airways 4.0 was the airline coming back on their feet to claim their position as a full-service network carrier. Domestically, they launched a lot of new flights to new stations, refreshed their in-flight offering, brought in new aircraft (the 737 MAX), focused on the passenger experience with new in-flight entertainment system and so on.

Internationally, the airline moved their European hub from Brussels to Amsterdam. They also got into a deep partnership with KLM/Air France/Delta/Virgin Atlantic to bring people from India to the US and other parts of Europe and America.

Jet Airways 5.0 is in the making right now. And it is not much different from Jet Airways 2.0. Jet Airways is progressively restructuring their network, which means a lot of flights are being cut down and a lot of stations being closed for the moment. Point to point flights to the Middle-East are being reworked for hub operations via Mumbai and Delhi.

A huge cut has been made on passenger amenities too for economy class passengers. Meals are being taken away from most of the economy passengers. Come January, you would only get a meal in economy class on a domestic flight if you are flying the highest fare family tickets or a corporate fare, or a JetPrivilege Gold or Platinum member. Most economy class passengers are also going to miss lounge access which was a given as a perk for their frequent business with the airline.

Essentially, from being a full-service network carrier, which meant you could connect on flights with joined tickets, interline between airlines and expect to earn miles and meals on your flights, Jet Airways is now going to be just a network carrier. You can still access their network of airline partners and use them to travel abroad or domestically and earn miles, but a lot of the onus has shifted on you, the passenger, to take care of yourself.
07/12/18 Ajay Awtaney/CNBC TV18

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