Once, there was the time of pre-liberalisation, when India’s domestic sector was ruled by a single airline, Indian Airlines. This Airlines ruled the market for decades at their own terms and conditions. Then come the golden era of domestic travel. Indian economy got liberalised in the beginning of 1990s and globalisation gives a new hope to the market.
In 1993, two airlines Jet Airways and Air Sahara began its operations in the domestic sector of India. These three airlines with some small regional airlines continued to enjoy the Indian sky till 2003. Then in 2003 came the Air Deccan and it introduced the concept of low-cost carriers in India and this concept took Indian Aviation boom on its new high. With the entry of Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Spice Jet and Indigo Airlines in the coming years, Indian sky was heading towards an incredible growth path. These domestic airlines entered in the market at the time, when the ambitions of common man was taking a new shape in India.
As India was marching ahead with the world economies and income of an average Indian was rising day by day, the aviation sector played its role very well in the story of rising India. The dream of flying became a reality for a common man and the flight operations only grew with every passing year. This incredible growth of airlines industry in India revolves around the amazing performances of domestic airlines. My present post is an attempt to analyse the effect of domestic airlines on Aviation Industry in India:
1. More choices to the passengers: When Indian Airlines was the only available option to the passengers, they were helpless regarding the choices. Without any other choices in domestic sector, travelers were bound to travel on Indian Airlines irrespective of fare, time and services. But now, due to the presence of so many players in the market, customers have a lot of choices in their kitty. Now they are free to fly on their own conditions in terms of price, time and in-flight services. If a person does not want to buy a fare from full service carrier like Air India, he can choose a low cost airlines like Indigo. If a person does not like the in-flight services of Indigo, he has a option to choose GoAir. If the timings of Go Air seems inconvenient, a person may get a convenient timings on SpiceJet flights. These options provide more flexibility to the customers in terms of price, timings and other services.
2. More Connectivity, even to smaller cities: Sometimes ago, a flight between Ludhiana and Delhi or from Imphal to Delhi was a distant dream in India. But now as the competition is growing in the market with each passing day, every airline is trying to explore the new and untapped destinations. They are exploring new markets to expand their presence. These leads them to fly to even tier-2 and tier-3 cities of India. Ultimately, air travelers from small cities are benefited by this race of market expansion.
3. Cheaper Air Tickets: As the domestic airlines are increasing their fleets to meet the increasing demand, competitions are also increasing in the market. Indian aviation sector is full of domestic airlines now and everybody wants to attract as many passengers as possible. Due to this highly competitive environment, airlines are forced to keep their fare competitive with another one in the market. These all leads to the availability of Cheaper Air Tickets to the customers. Sometimes, these domestic low-cost airlines offer fares as low as the First Class and Second Class fares of Rajdhani Express Trains. This helps them to target the passengers of this segment on the Indian Railways network. Ultimately, only a traveler enjoys this price war.A simple search of cheaper air tickets between two cities at the ticket booking websites results in to the multiple combination of prices and timings to offer a wide range of flexibility. A person who always saw an aircraft from his roof and dreamt about them, is able to fulfill his dream of flying now.
4.Improved Customer Relations: Earlier, when technology was not so advance and and the facilities like SMS, internet and web-check in were not available, every airline had a tough time to communicate with their customers in case of any need. As the technology advances, domestic airlines invested heavily to synchronize their customer services with the technology. Customers now enjoy the facilities of SMS in case of delay, web check-in to avoid the queues at the counters and special treatments in case of flight cancellations. On-time performance now becomes a major issue for the airlines to improve the customer satisfaction. After all, these factors only endears them to an airline.
5. Excellent Flight Services: Earlier, when there was less competition in the market, airlines run the things on their own terms. Flight delays were frequent, passengers had to wait for hours at the check-in counters and in the security areas, and nobody cared about them. But when competition grew in the market and many players entered, those customers became the god for the airlines. To increase their customer base, every airlines tried to build a good brand image and healthy reputation among the travelers. The trend is still going on and this forced all airlines to improve their flight services. Now, at any reputed airlines counter, a passenger can at least expect a big smile to welcome and a helping hand in the need. Low-cost carrier, like Kingfisher Red, even treated their customers with the complimentary meal on board in its old good days. To offer an excellent in-flight services and to restore its old glory, full service carrier Air India introduced its brand new B-787 Dreamliners aircraft on the domestic route in India. Ultimately, the passengers get benefited by these moves.
6. Realizing an Indian’s dream of foreign tourism: Some years ago, going abroad was a distant dream for Indian Middle Class. But, with the entry of low-cost carriers, passengers are having the benefit of cheaper air tickets. Now, the Low Cost domestic airlines like Indigo and Spice Jet are also flying to the international destinations. These airlines are having the strong presence in the Indian Domestic Market and now they are re-writing a new history with their larger customer base in domestic market. With their cheaper fares in comparison to full service carriers, a middle class person can also plan to spend few days on a foreign tour.
Turbulence in Sky: India’s domestic aviation sector is a tough place to be in at present. Rising crude oil prices are increasing the operating cost of the airlines. Some other charges like User Development Fee in Delhi, levied by the airport operator, are also responsible for the increasing cost of operations. In the turbulent time of Indian Sky, when Kingfisher Airlines is bleeding heavily and finally regulator suspended its license, Air India is lying under the pile of increasing debt and all other airlines (exceptions are always there) have a tough time in their winter schedule due to lower demand in the market, there is a strong hope that rising incomes of India’s strong middle class will keep the future of Indian Aviation Sector alive and bright.