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India Carriers To Be 1st To Emerge From Recession?  
User currently offlineShanxz From Singapore, joined Apr 2006, 243 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6998 times:

I recently interacted with key airline executives in India, including the CEO at SpiceJet. I got the feeling that airlines in India will not only be one of the first few to emerge from the recession, but also come out the strongest. Here a couple of reasons why...

1. Airlines in India have been quite nimble and resilient in the crisis - they've cut loss making routes (eg BOM-PVG-SFO for 9W) and delayed delivery of new aircrafts or leased them out.

2. They've not cut on customer service - Unlike what's happening in the US airline industry, where consumers are being charged for everything from blankets to water (!!), airlines in India still give importance to the customer. I was personally greeted by name when being served on Indigo Airlines last week - a rarity even in Business Class on some airlines. Jet airways recently won the best First Class, and Kingfisher remains a 5 Star airline. Such good brand practices will build loyalty and pay off when good times return.

3. The Indian economy is still doing well. Even though there's a slowdown in the economy, it's still growing at over 7%! This should revive demand soon enough, and the Indian carriers will reap the rewards of a still-active Indian economy, if they play their cards right.

In fact, I wrote a full article on the topic. But thought we could have a very interesting discussion here with all the experts, on how the Indian carriers will fare and whether they'll be one of the first to emerge out of the recession.


Airlines are in the service business, not transport. Brand matters...
33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineEric From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6833 times:



Quoting Shanxz (Thread starter):
3. The Indian economy is still doing well. Even though there's a slowdown in the economy, it's still growing at over 7%! This should revive demand soon enough, and the Indian carriers will reap the rewards of a still-active Indian economy, if they play their cards right.

It may be true that the Indian economy will grow between 6% and 8% in 2009. But one thing that should not be forgotten about that is than economic growth in India sub 6% will be classified as a "recession" in India (for the lack of a better word), as 6% is what is needed to continue to get the wider population out of poverty. India's aviation industry future lies in people shifting into higher socio-economic classes. In fact, growth below 6% effectively means that the economy will come to a halt.


User currently offlineShanxz From Singapore, joined Apr 2006, 243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6768 times:



Quoting Eric (Reply 1):
It may be true that the Indian economy will grow between 6% and 8% in 2009. But one thing that should not be forgotten about that is than economic growth in India sub 6% will be classified as a "recession" in India (for the lack of a better word), as 6% is what is needed to continue to get the wider population out of poverty. India's aviation industry future lies in people shifting into higher socio-economic classes. In fact, growth below 6% effectively means that the economy will come to a halt.

I wouldn't totally disagree with this analysis, but it's to be noted that Indians are used to avg GDP growth rates of 3-4% historically, and even 7%+ is pretty brisk. Moreover, the advent of LCCs is increasing the number of fliers, by reaching out to those who couldn't afford it earlier - hence increasing the "catchment"



Airlines are in the service business, not transport. Brand matters...
User currently offlineDIJKKIJK From France, joined Jul 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6721 times:

Almost every airline in the world has cut loss making routes. Besides, other than 9W, no Indian airline was making profits even when the Indian economy was growing at 9%.So, to that extent, Indian carriers were always in a kind of ''recession''. The Indian government policy of imposing curbs on the international expansion plans of Indian carriers, while letting every two-penny airline from the gulf fly multiple flights to India also hasn't helped.

Quoting Shanxz (Thread starter):
Even though there's a slowdown in the economy, it's still growing at over 7%

Well, even a sub-saharan economy like Sudan registered a 12 % growth in GDP in 2008. Has that led to huge demands for air travel there? I agree Sudan isn't India, but you get the point!

Quoting Shanxz (Reply 2):
Moreover, the advent of LCCs is increasing the number of fliers, by reaching out to those who couldn't afford it earlier - hence increasing the "catchment"

They are doing so by cutting fares big time, something which can only be counterproductive in the long run. Even Vijay Mallya was complaining a few days ago about how this fare war would kill aviation in India.



Never argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience.
User currently offlineAviationbuff From India, joined Mar 2008, 1425 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6694 times:

Nice article.

The mutual co-operation between IT and 9W is a praise worthy initiative and approach. Considering that both were out to kill each other. However, with the time, they joined hands to co-operate.There are few points which are not good for the carriers such as:

Fare war which is not good for all the carriers.

The government policy of not allowing Indian carriers to fly International until they complete 5 years. However, any international start-up can start operating to indian destinations, from day one is strange and limiting the scope of Indian carriers (particularly LCC's) who want to operate profitable international destinations but could not do so because of the govt. policy.

I wish your predictions come true.


User currently offlineDirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1691 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6662 times:

Great informative article.
When I read that 9W was cutting SFO (rightly a glamour destination) and leasing to GF and TY, I took it to be a sign of bad economic times, which they are, but it's good news that the one thing 9W hasn't cut down on is customer service, since it's the hardest to build up. They can relaunch SFO in a second, but it would take years of hard and consistent work to rebuild its brand for excellence if they had a patchy soft product.


User currently offlineShanxz From Singapore, joined Apr 2006, 243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6651 times:



Quoting Aviationbuff (Reply 4):
Nice article.

Thanks  Smile

Quoting Aviationbuff (Reply 4):
They are doing so by cutting fares big time, something which can only be counterproductive in the long run. Even Vijay Mallya was complaining a few days ago about how this fare war would kill aviation in India.

True enough. And the good thing is that Indian aviation execs realize this thing! And this is what will save them. Not just Mallya, but also SpiceJet CEO mentioned in his conversation that fares are likely to go up very soon from the current levels. This, as opposed to their counterparts in the US, where they don't care about fare levels being unsustainable. Interestingly, just saw a BOS-LAX-BOS flight on United being sold for $217 for June!



Airlines are in the service business, not transport. Brand matters...
User currently offlineIncitatus From Brazil, joined Feb 2005, 4020 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6622 times:



Quoting Shanxz (Thread starter):
Unlike what's happening in the US airline industry, where consumers are being charged for everything from blankets to water (!!), airlines in India still give importance to the customer.

Are you saying that for airlines that charge for blankets and water the customer is not important? But for those that do not charge for these items the customer is important? I don't get it. The customer is always the lifeline of any business, whether they include every aspect of their services in a single price or whether they unbundle their products.

I cannot think of any evidence for the carriers of India coming out of the current slump first. Most people can't even agree that we have seen the bottom of the slump anywhere. Right now, we can't even tell the final impact of the crisis in India.

Domestic services prior to the crisis in India were a competitive bloodbath. Longhaul service in India was being fed by immigrant travel and a service outsourcing boom. Employment in the developed economies is down, people are weary of spending in non-essential items including travel and companies are cutting expenses. The Satyam scandal has shaken faith in India's family businesses as well.

Too early a call at this point.



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User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 6502 times:

The Recovery process has already started.
The Key is finding a balance between low fares to encourage travel & yet make a profit.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineAtomsareenough From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 566 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6437 times:



Quoting DIJKKIJK (Reply 3):
Well, even a sub-saharan economy like Sudan registered a 12 % growth in GDP in 2008. Has that led to huge demands for air travel there? I agree Sudan isn't India, but you get the point!

I'm sorry, but that seems to be a ridiculous analogy. Sudan is an oil country with no middle class. India has a diverse economy with a middle class that probably numbers 50-100 million people. So no, I don't get your point.


User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6393 times:

Recent data from AAI on Indian traffic for the month of Nov. 2008 is not encouraging. Domestic traffic is down 21%, and even if it picks up on the back of recent aggressive pricing by LCCs, it is unlikely to be sustainable over the next 2 years.

Over the next two years, I expect to see fewer airlines in India. For the long term, I expect Indigo to be the dominant LCC, and Jet to be the dominant full service carrier.

http://www.airportsindia.org.in/traffic_news/nov2k8annex3.pdf
Domestic traffic -21%
International +7%
Total -14%


User currently offlineDirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1691 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6355 times:



Quoting Atomsareenough (Reply 9):
I'm sorry, but that seems to be a ridiculous analogy. Sudan is an oil country with no middle class. India has a diverse economy with a middle class that probably numbers 50-100 million people. So no, I don't get your point.

He probably meant that an increase in GDP does not equal an increase in air traffic.
While we're at it, income distribution in the Sudan is concentrated on a ruling elite while the masses don't have much, hence it doesn't really make a difference since the rich just got richer.


User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6315 times:

FWIW, aviation traffic tends to grow at a factor of 1.1 of GDP for developed economies, and at a factor of 1.3 for developing economies.

Assuming a 7% annual GDP growth for India over the next 10-15 years, Indian aviation traffic should grow at about 10% annually, which translates to traffic doubling in 10 years.

In summary, the long term prospects are encouraging. It remains to be seen which private airlines can survive the current slowdown, and price wars.


User currently offlineAtomsareenough From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 566 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 6211 times:



Quoting Directorguy (Reply 11):
He probably meant that an increase in GDP does not equal an increase in air traffic.
While we're at it, income distribution in the Sudan is concentrated on a ruling elite while the masses don't have much, hence it doesn't really make a difference since the rich just got richer.

That's pretty much what I was getting at, though. It would make sense for an increase in Sudanese GDP not to impact total aviation demand, as it's all concentrated among a few wealthy elites who control the natural resources that the economy is based on. In India, GDP growth is distributed much more evenly among the masses, and it DOES correlate with aviation demand. So it doesn't seem like a valid comparison.


User currently offlineNCB From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 6146 times:

Uhm, GDP and airline growth... very sensitive arguments.
India's GDP can grow 30% annually but if the US GDP declines 3%, you may very well see a decline of traffic on US-India routes.
Also, GDP growth may mean nothing if it doesn't create more "need" or "affordability" to fly.

Therefore we must clealy differentiate 2 markets: domestic self-sustaining and international non-self-sustaining.

Domestic self-sustaining market under which Spicejet, Indigo, ex-Air Deccan fall could very well do fine but IT, 9W, AI are suffering under the decline of passengers to and from Asia, Europe and U.S. and are forced to take important actions.



[Edited 2009-02-09 15:39:43]

User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 6084 times:



Quoting NCB (Reply 14):
India's GDP can grow 30% annually but if the US GDP declines 3%, you may very well see a decline of traffic on US-India routes.

Note that overall international traffic from India is still positive at 7% annual growth. I do not have specific numbers for the India-USA sector.


User currently offlineShanxz From Singapore, joined Apr 2006, 243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 6070 times:



Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 10):
Over the next two years, I expect to see fewer airlines in India. For the long term, I expect Indigo to be the dominant LCC, and Jet to be the dominant full service carrier.

Agreed about the greater consolidation. I see Indigo, SpiceJet and Kingfisher Red to dominate the domestic LCC biz, with SpiceJet going international soon. Full service will certainly be dominated by Jet Airways, but I'd also give Kingfisher a chance.

Quoting Incitatus (Reply 7):
Are you saying that for airlines that charge for blankets and water the customer is not important? But for those that do not charge for these items the customer is important? I don't get it. The customer is always the lifeline of any business, whether they include every aspect of their services in a single price or whether they unbundle their products.

I agree with just one one the things you mentioned, " The customer is always the lifeline of any business". But I stand by my point that the common traveler in the US is disregarded by most airlines, and they feel much more "humanly" treated aboard Asian and Indian carriers.

Having lived in the US for a couple of years and flown extensively, I only sensed despair among the average American traveler. Flying is always a hassle. Something that causes pain. (Yes, Pain!). And that's often because of the disregard for customer service on US carriers. Yes, there are exceptions like Virgin America and JetBlue, but that's about it. And these airlines are doing well because they take care of the customer. They give him value for money, rather than no value for no money.

You just need to step aboard a Kingfisher flight or a Jet Airways flight, from the US or domestically, and you'll find the treatment reminding you of Singapore Airlines!

Just an example. When was the last time you were greeted by your name when being served drinks? Probably on a Lufthansa First Class or a Singapore Airlines Business Class. Never on a US airline for sure. I was made to feel that good in Indigo - a budget airline in India. See the difference?



Airlines are in the service business, not transport. Brand matters...
User currently offlineLutfi From China, joined Sep 2000, 776 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5991 times:

Hmm, I disagree that Indian airlines are coping well with the crisis.

- Other airlines (US obvious example) have cut back on flights much more than India. Indian airlines still have large numbers of aircraft on order.

Indian airlines, because they haven't cut capacity in line with the market, are now engaged in a brutal fare war. Yields are down 40-50% from late 2008, and load factors are also down.
As currently structured, the Indian airline industry is unsustainable in the present downturn. The airlines all seem to be hoping someone else goes bankrupt first…

Full service doesn’t seem to be appreciated. Jet market share has fallen from 31% in 2006 to 18.5% at the end of 2008. LCC market share has increased from 38 to 45%.

The GDP growth figures don’t seem to be affecting traffic – domestic traffic is down 20% or more. And to make things worse, the airports are all increasing or introducing their passenger fees to make up for the massive drop in revenue!

The FAA warnings to DGAC are likely to go unresolved (IMHO) This will mean very negative publicity for Indian carriers when the FAA bans them from expanding flights to the US. However good the service, travellers will likely shy away, and travel with airlines that aren’t sanctioned, and have almost as good customer service (SQ/LH/CX etc)


User currently offlineLutfi From China, joined Sep 2000, 776 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5980 times:

Oh, yes, and Mallya may want fares to go up, but given that Indigo & Spicejet are still growing, and have lower costs than him, I think he is wishful thinking.

Actually, I will not be surprised if Indian carriers lose more money 2009/10 than either US or European airlines.


User currently offlineIncitatus From Brazil, joined Feb 2005, 4020 posts, RR: 13
Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 5941 times:



Quoting Shanxz (Reply 16):
I agree with just one one the things you mentioned, " The customer is always the lifeline of any business". But I stand by my point that the common traveler in the US is disregarded by most airlines, and they feel much more "humanly" treated aboard Asian and Indian carriers.

Well, to me what you call the common traveler travels by bus or non a/c train in India. So the common traveler is more humanly treated in the US because they get air travel instead.

Quoting Shanxz (Reply 16):
You just need to step aboard a Kingfisher flight or a Jet Airways flight, from the US or domestically, and you'll find the treatment reminding you of Singapore Airlines!

Jet is not SQ and not everybody agrees that SQ robotized service is the standart to be measured by. Give me CX any day. Though I really like Jet too.

Quoting Shanxz (Reply 16):
Just an example. When was the last time you were greeted by your name when being served drinks?

That is not unusual but to me it is not important. If I am up front in a longhaul service I will often dismiss the whole service - drinks too, ask not to be disturbed during the entire flight and maximize sleep time. After almost 400 flights in the last 6 years travel is going from one place to another, not an "experience".



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User currently offlineSpr773 From India, joined Jun 2008, 162 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5881 times:

@Shanxz

Nice article you have there....

Quoting Shanxz (Reply 16):

Yes I agree that air travellers (frequent ones) are quite carried away when flying Asian carriers. When I was coming back from SFO via SIN to BOM , I was chatting to a fellow traveller whose UA flight was delayed and he was en-route to Shanghai. We had a very interesting conversation which was centered very much around Asian carriers like SQ , TG , 9W and he was speaking very fondly about his memories when he had flown with them. However when I asked him how the US airlines were in terms of service...he just said " you pay them , they give you a seat in their plane. The rest of what you expect human services (just a smile , small talk or even offering an extra soft drink apart from the usual meal service) which do not cost an extra penny are never ever seen on US carriers. You pay , we fly you from point a to point b and thats about it....the rest we give you comes out of your ticket"


User currently offlineAviationbuff From India, joined Mar 2008, 1425 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5099 times:



Quoting Lutfi (Reply 17):
Indian airlines, because they haven't cut capacity in line with the market, are now engaged in a brutal fare war. Yields are down 40-50% from late 2008, and load factors are also down.



Quoting DIJKKIJK (Reply 3):
They are doing so by cutting fares big time, something which can only be counterproductive in the long run. Even Vijay Mallya was complaining a few days ago about how this fare war would kill aviation in India.



Quoting Shanxz (Reply 6):
Not just Mallya, but also SpiceJet CEO mentioned in his conversation that fares are likely to go up very soon from the current levels.



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 8):
The Key is finding a balance between low fares to encourage travel & yet make a profit.

Airlines raise basic fares

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/B...by_Rs_2000/articleshow/4105146.cms

Quote:
Airlines including low-cost carriers have withdrawn all promotional fares and increased basic fares by around Rs 2,000 on several sectors from Tuesday.

The decision was taken as operators were faced with low load factors, though basic promotional fares had been as low as Rs 99 on many routes, industry sources said.

"We have discontinued our promotional fares as the response has not been very good, but people who have already bought tickets under the scheme will enjoy the benefit," said an Air India spokesperson here.

The spokesperson of private carrier Kingfisher Airlines said: "We have closed low fare buckets and are concentrating on setting higher fare buckets. Our focus is on revenue and not seat factors.



User currently offlineInitRef From India, joined Nov 2000, 118 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4838 times:

I am not sure how the article can conclude that Indian airlines will emerge first:

- 1. Nimble and resilient? All airlines around the world have rationalized routes, fleets, pricing etc. The Indian airlines have been slow in one major regard - frequent flier loyalty and alliance beyond the Indian market. Look at what AA/BA/IB and others are looking to do, and in that regard 9W's lack of a solid alliance looks immature.

2. Service: Yes, the indian airlines are exemplary, but if airline survival was based purely on onboard service, all the US majors would have been be out of business by now...

3. Indian economy: how does 7% GDP growth reconcile with a 21% drop in domestic air travel? There is a massive slow down in middle-class spending in automobiles, real estate, retail etc, what is the basis for your confidence that a) the commercial aviation will be spared, and b) that things aren't going to get much worse before getting better?


User currently offlineNCB From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4791 times:



Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 15):
Note that overall international traffic from India is still positive at 7% annual growth. I do not have specific numbers for the India-USA sector.

I must see evidence to believe that.

I can give evidence to the contrary:
9W has reduced the BRU hub to A330-only service, leased out its B777s and using some on the pacific routes.
LF's and yields are dropping, 9W has reduced international capacity but has left domestic capacity untouched.
Kingfisher als deferred plans for their international expansion and are teaming up with 9W because they both need one another to go through this situation.

Air India is desperate and doesn't know what do about their international routes.



Though domestic traffic has dropped significantly, I don't see that to be the biggest challenge of domestic carriers. Domestic demand will recover very soon since, Indian domestic travellers have little reasons to be affected by the crisis.
More of a concern is that Indigo, King red, etc... have huge orders and will meet overcapacity situations very soon unless they can get those who can't afford it, to fly, Ryanair-style.


User currently offlineInitRef From India, joined Nov 2000, 118 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4650 times:



Quoting NCB:
I must see evidence to believe that.

LAXDESI has posted a link from Airports Authority India for Nov 09 traffic here:
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...eneral_aviation/read.main/4310948/


25 Addd : Damn right. When you see a bits of data like this (14% decline in overall passenger numbers? this is worse than aviation industry in any developed co
26 LAXDESI : Nov. 2008 airfares(including all fees) in India were probably 30-40% higher relative to Nov. 2007, which explains the steep drop of 21% in domestic t
27 Post contains links Shanxz : For the purposes of those who thought this is a long term slump in the Indian economy rather than a blip, check this out: "India to pip China as faste
28 Directorguy : Are any of the 'cash-cow' routes (India-Middle East, India-UK etc.) hurt? These are two huge markets which carry substantial number of labourers (mos
29 Huaiwei : Even when the Chinese economy was growing red-hot for years, you don't see the Chinese-based airlines bringing in correspondingly healthy profits or
30 Addd : Well - what else to expect from The Economic Times (especially when it is on the subject of unstoppable India, Inc. concuring the world)?
31 Post contains links Rajrs : Airline sector may land in profit zone in quarter-four: Dinesh A Keskar, President, Boeing- India Check this also. http://www.travelbizmonitor.com/air
32 Art : More like doubling in 7.5 years.
33 Huaiwei : Some latest news: India says good times over, warns deficit must go up India's ruling Congress party warned Monday the good economic times were over
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