Posts: 1017
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2004 2:28 am

Air-India And South India

Sat Dec 25, 2004 6:50 pm

After having spent close to three weeks in South India I realize that it is unlikely that Air-India will recover passengers from this part of the country again. Air-India charters or whatever it is being called may be a valiant attempt, but the bottom line is mismangment of Air India and a poor product has turned off South Indians for good. In Chennai, Bangalore and Cochin I have gotten the same response with regards to flying Air-India, even if they are cheaper than let’s say Emirates, Gulf Air or Singapore Airlines. My question is given this reality, should Air-India just forget about connecting South India with international destinations (with a few high yielding exceptions) and maximize its miniscule fleet flying to more destinations from Mumbai and Delhi? Obviously ministers and MPs from the South would go ballistic, but does it make sense given Air India has so many holes on their route map currently. Could one of the private carriers be allowed to fly for example from Cochin to the Gulf or from Chennai to Malaysia and Singapore using AI’s route authority? I’m not advocating a position, but just want some feedback on the idea. Also, I'm wondering why AI and IC do not codeshare on each other's flights to the Gulf.
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Joined: Thu May 16, 2002 12:18 pm

RE: Air-India And South India

Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:35 pm

After having spent close to three weeks in South India I realize that it is unlikely that Air-India will recover passengers from this part of the country again

That is a very sweeping statement and incorrect as well. Air India is still the largest player in terms of passenger bookings from Cochin , Trivandrum and Calicut by a big margin (they have stiff competition from none other than Indain Airlines in Calicut and Cochin. The situation I agree may be different in Bangalore and Chennai where there is a lot of competition, but even in Chennai, Air India's flights to Singapore go chock full, despite intense competition from Malaysian, Singapore and Indian Airlines.

Of course many of the middle class Indian passengers are prep school snobs who find it fashionable to snub your own airline as they find it befitting their status to silently bear the insults hurled by many of the foreign cabin crew (Qatar Airways is one honourable execption) rather than accept that Air India offers a comparable or better service. But in reality, Air India with their convenient schedules (they are the only airline to offer daily flights non stop to DXB from TRV,COK and CCJ) and competitive fares have no shortage in getting fares.

My brother is based at DXB , and he travels home to TRV atleast twice an year and he prefers Air India as he says that being the only non stop player on the route, the flight time of 4 hours and a daily non stop flight beats everything else .

Air India may not much traffic to Europe or US anymore, I agree. But this is more due to the very efficent connections offered by a lot of middle east careers (I was able to fly out of TRV at 09 AM and still land at LHR by 1730), something which Air India flying via BOM is hard put to achieve. But even here, Air India is picking up a lot of passengers from BLR,MAA and COK through its hub and spoke operation flights using contracted out Iindian Airlines A320s using AI flight nos.

[Edited 2004-12-25 12:38:45]
Posts: 294
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2004 2:58 am

RE: Air-India And South India

Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:36 pm

Well - it is a fact that people down south look at AI as the carrier of last resort - the one you look to when all other options are sold out. It invariably involves a trek to BOM, and in many cases an additional stop in DEL before you get to your destination. Clearly who would want to put up with that?

The best outcome would be if 9W starts service from MAA and BLR to the south east asian countries to startwith and then expand to European hubs. I doubt the MPs from the south would care much who operates the flights. I would vote for 9W over AI any day, unless of course if AI joins *A  Smile
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Joined: Thu May 30, 2002 6:54 am

RE: Air-India And South India

Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:59 pm

Talk is cheap.

If AI's loads to/from South India are any indication, the people love to complain but keep flying Air India en masse - even when there are other options.

When AIX gets underway in April, customers in South India will get access to the most convenient schedules and most attractive pricing to their primary travel markets - namely the Middle East and SE Asia. Of course they will still complain, but when push comes to shove they'll still keep flying Air India.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada
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Joined: Fri May 14, 2004 3:21 pm

RE: Air-India And South India

Sun Dec 26, 2004 1:21 pm

While I don't know how other South Indians in the U.S. feel, or how South Indians in India feel, for myself and my family AI IS a last resort. All of AI's foreign flights to Europe are via BOM or DEL. Furthermore, AI flies only to LAX, ORD, and JFK. Indians, of course, live in every corner of America.

The most convenient for myself and my family is a European carrier like Lufthansa or BA that flies not only to my "second-tier" U.S. city AND flies to MAA.

AI is a great option IF you live in New York, for example, and are flying to Delhi or Bombay. Personally, I think it's a shame that a German airline and now Delta fly to India's fourth largest city NONSTOP from Europe and AI doesn't!!
Tort reform now. Throw lawyers in jail later.
Posts: 1017
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2004 2:28 am

RE: Air-India And South India

Sun Dec 26, 2004 2:45 pm

This is a big part of it- South Indians traveling to the west resent having to transfer in BOM and DEL. What's worse is that even though AI's timetable and literature mention the words "hub and spoke" airlines in India have no idea how to deal with connecting passengers or how to feed traffic onto a flight to an onward destination. Perhaps this is the fault of the Indian market and not AI specifically but is a problem for South Indians. Lufthansa, British Airways and now Delta all provide direct service in Madras, with BA soon joining LH in Bangalore. On Air India connections are neccesary.

AI's limited service to the US is not their fault, but in my mind another factor. I live in the Miami area and never have wanted to transit through New York and since the early 80s (my last trip on AI besides domestic MAA-COK service) have not had to.

But part of my question was can AI given this reality make Mumbai a truly spectacular hub/gateway by offering more flights to more destinations at the expense of flights AI seems to be flying for political reasons? Could Mumbai once the airport is renovated become a truly world class gateway with AI service around the globe, and much like many European carriers limited int'l service from secondary cities? Sentiment, I agree means AI should fly from all these different Indian gateways to cities abroad, but is it logical given the perception of the airline in some parts?
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Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2000 3:14 pm

RE: Air-India And South India

Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:35 pm

The protection that AI enjoys on the Gulf routes skews the equation somewhat! There is no free-market here.

What the govt needs to do urgently is to free the Indian passenger from the torture that is Air India. Open up the market to other players, including and especially the private carriers and IC. IC's request for addl flights out of TRV and CCJ has been stuck with the ministry for so long! Meanwhile passengers continue to endure the shoddy aircraft and poor service on AI.


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