Journal: TWUK Section:
Title: Issue Date: 22/05/00
Author: Page Number: 35
Copyright: Other











Airline report by Updesh Kapur




Jet fixes course on latest routes




Domestic carrier seeks market share boost

India’s Jet Airways has set an ambitious target to become the country’s number-one domestic scheduled carrier within two years.


With a 30% market share and 4.5m passengers carried last year, Jet predicts it will capture around 42% of the domestic market and hit the 6m passenger mark for the first time by 2002.


Already India’s largest private scheduled airline with a fleet of 30 aircraft, the carrier competes with smaller independent rival Sahara Airlines.


After launching in 1993, Jet Airways rapidly developed a network of flights to 36 destinations operating more than 175 daily flights from its main Mumbai hub and secondary hubs in Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai (formerly Madras).


Having developed links between main cities, the second stage was to build up a network of regional routes feeding into Jet’s hubs – further growth is expected with the operation of more rural services using 62-seater turbo-prop ATR72s.


The UK is Jet’s second largest international market after the US, with 20,000 passengers carried last year, mostly as interline traffic on inbound international carriers.


Two-thirds of the UK business is corporate travel with the rest split between ethnic, religious and holiday traffic.


The bulk of UK business is ticketed on British Airways, one of three marketing partners with which Jet has special interline agreements. The others are Northwest Airlines and Dutch carrier KLM.


Jet’s London-based European regional manager Raj Desai said:”Our growth is reflected by the increased support from the domestic and international travel trade, corporate clients and all of our interline agreements.


“About 38 tour operators feature us, up from two when we started. We are preferred to Indian Airlines and its subsidiary Alliance Air because we have achieved a reputation for being reliable and punctual with high levels of service to international standards.”


The domestic aviation industry required a major shake-up due to the poor reliability of Indian Airlines.


Passengers were unable to book confirmed seats with ease and faced chronic aircraft punctuality problems. The arrival of private carriers like Jet in 1993 addressed the problem and while many independents have collapsed, the state-owned airline has been forced to change its customer approach to remain competitive.


According to Desai, many people still regard Jet as a businessman’s airline because it began flying between major cities. He said:”We have gradually added leisure destinations like Jaipur and Udaipur in the north and Cochin and Trivandrum in the south. These have helped our moves into the leisure market.”


One of Jet’s popular routes is on the Delhi-Jaipur-Udaipur- Mumbai tourist circuit, which it launched last November. While the Indian domestic market remains healthy with potential for growth, Desai was concerned that a lack of inbound capacity from the UK will affect Jet’s international traffic and foreign-exchange earnings.


“The single biggest problem over the past 12 months has been a lack of capacity to India, in particular Delhi,” he said.


“It is now difficult to get seats throughout the year, whereas before it was seasonal. Demand is increasing, yet capacity is a real problem.”


However Desai acknowledged Virgin Atlantic’s planned entry to Delhi this summer, using three of new codeshare partner Air India’s six unused flights a week, will help address the capacity issue.


“About 38 operators feature us, up from two when we started”


Regional success: Jet Airways looks to gain more custom on leisure routes


Regional success: Jet Airways looks to gain more custom on leisure routes


Factfile


Jet Airways


Chief executive officer: Steve Forte.