What does the merger of two major airlines, Kingfisher and Air Deccan, mean for ordinary citizens like us? Will Mallya’s flamboyance and Gopinath’s no-nonsense attitude combine to produce a star airline? Read on to find out what’s in store.
If you’ve traveled on Kingfisher and Deccan, you would know that there’s a world of difference in the way they operate. Deccan has converted the airport, once a rich person’s domain, to an inter-state bus terminal; Kingfisher, on the other hand, is all flair with in-flight entertainment, personalized services, the works.
What an odd pair, don’t you think? Would you have imagined a merger between these two? Well, it probably had to happen. Jet had snapped up Sahara and the national carriers had united. As the saying goes: You can consistently provide value to your customers only if you’re growing; Deccan wasn’t and Kingfisher not nearly fast enough for Mallya.
With this merger, Mallya gets a regional network with a solid name, additional planes and most importantly, the ability to fly overseas; Kingfisher completes its five-year probation only in 2010. Deccan gets succor at a time when the gap between cost and revenue was beginning to tell and customers were turning away.
So, now you’ll be able to simply fly to all the corners in India, you’ll also be able to walk out of a red and white aircraft in Europe, the US, Gulf countries and SAARC nations. If Mallya has his way, you’ll be coddled no end; but you will end up paying more for it.
Your days of flying at Re 1 may be at an end, though; Mallya has often said he doesn’t believe in the low-cost model. The truth is the low-cost model works better at smaller, cheaper airports, which are too few in India.
With expansion continuing unabated, change is certainly in the air. But will this merger change the aviation scene? Perhaps tomorrow; today the partnership is still trying to catch up with the competition. Knowing Mallya, this will happen sooner, rather than later.
Which way will the wind blow? Will the low-cost model be dumped for the frilled variety of guest relations? Will airports revert to the rich?
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