A few hours after Vistara, the new full service airline from Tata/Singapore Airlines showed its first look, Jet Airways made an announcement, which sort of made their life come full circle.
A few years ago (7!), Jet Airways bought out Air Sahara, and rebranded them to run them as JetLite. Then, during the economic recession a few years back, they figured people did not want to pay the fares of a full-service carrier, so they used the same planes to offer JetKonnect, an all-economy offering which did not serve food. Then, some years later they took away the JetLite branding and called all their non-full service operations JetKonnect.
Complicated much? Yes. This has created a brand manager’s nightmare with so many brands and so many tail codes that there is hardly any assurance that flying a plane will mean an assured level of service. Alongside, with no-frill carriers dumping routes and inventory in the market, they really did not make a differentiation, and their full-service model seemed irrelevant when low-cost airlines were being able to sell tickets at a shade below their full-fare prices and no responsibility to provide meals, and full license to nickel and dime the customers.
Seems the airline has gone in for a rethink of how this has worked out for them. With a new CEO designated in Cramer Ball, and the arrival of the newest competitor Vistara, and a push from new shareholder Etihad, they are trying to go back to a world seven years back where Jet Airways signified the Full Service carrier India had.
Here is what the chairman Naresh Goyal had to say yesterday,
We as an airline confused customers (with multiple brands) … The main aim in the tie-up will be to increase market share
A part of the plan is to reconfigure the entire fleet of Boeing 737s with 12 business class seats and the rest economy. Another part of the plan is to extinguish the conflicting brands by the end of 2014. All flights,except very short haul ones like Mumbai – Pune, will have food. In the Chairman’s words,
I give you my commitment, that by the end of the year, Jet Airways will have the best domestic full service product in the country. We will always be competitive to ensure our customers get the best value for their money.
In this move, the future of JetLite (Air Sahara) is uncertain, because while there are rumours that Jet Airways plans to sell JetLite, the airline states otherwise.
So, all of a sudden, full service carriers in India will get more visibility, the sort they haven’t enjoyed in a while when a whole new generation of Indian flyers are taking to the sky for the first time.