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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

India Diaries - No Frills Airlines in India

India is now a booming economy and one market that is doing well and is poised for terrific growth is airline travel. As a result, a bunch of private airlines have come up such as Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines, Spice Airlines etc. Some of these airlines, such as Air Deccan are No-frills airlines. (similar to Southwest Airlines in USA). As a result, their tickets cost less compared to other airlines. But in reality, do they really cost less? – I was reading a report in Times of India today that an Air Deccan flight from Mumbai to Bangalore was delayed by 5 hours as a result of a technical snag. This was informed to all the passengers AFTER they had checked in their baggage and had got their boarding passes. Also, since they don’t serve food on the flight, they didn’t even give any sort of food or drinks to the already harassed passengers at the airport.

When I was boarding the flight from Mumbai to Kolkata, I overheard an announcement on the public speaker system that some Air Deccan flight was delayed and they were sorry for the inconvenience caused. That is not a good thing to happen. They are low-cost airlines but that doesn’t mean that they can afford to be late always. Also, it is not that passengers are traveling for free on the flight – they are also paying their hard earned money to buy the tickets. If time could be equated to money, then the 5 hours of flight delay added to the actual cost of the ticket would come out to be the same as any other airline, I guess.

However, I must say this - what Air Deccan has done in the low cost airlines segment is worth applauding. They have made flight travel so cheap that an average middle class person in India can afford it at least once. In fact, their brand logo is “The Common Man”, the cartoon character of R.K.Laxman. But to keep their lead in this market, they need to continuously prove to be good and consistent in their service. Regular flight delays will only make travelers wary of traveling in them and in the end, they are the ones who will suffer.

-- Thyaga


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