Sanjiv Kapoor quits SpiceJet to join Vistara

One of the best brains in Indian aviation has been Sanjiv Kapoor, who was earlier an aviation and aerospace consultant at Bains and came on board SpiceJet a couple of years back as the COO. Since then the airline went from being in the doldrums to being back on to the path of profitability.

He was the guy who pushed through the many sales to bring in cashflow, and fill up inventory which would have usually flown empty. There were numerous flash sales during his tenure and the last one is still ongoing. He also innovated by bringing in more unbundled products such as SpiceMax.

Yesterday, SpiceJet put out an announcement that Sanjiv Kapoor had put in his papers and was moving on from the airline.

This morning, another announcement from Vistara tells us that Sanjiv Kapoor will be joining Vistara as the Chief Strategy Officer & Chief Commercial Officer, to replace outgoing CCO Giam Ming Toh from February 1, 2016. Vistara has been on an interesting journey over the past two years, and since their first flight has been bringing in an upgrade such as new IFE technologies. However, they suffer from not so high load factors and people refusing to pay a premium for their product.

Giam Ming Toh heads back to join the parent, Singapore Airlines from where he was on deputation.

Vistara could sure benefit from the experience of Sanjiv Kapoor!

What do you guys think should be the initial focus areas for Sanjiv Kapoor at Vistara? For me, it would be the mess that Club Vistara is at the moment.

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  1. I’ve thought about this a lot. Vistara doesn’t offer anything great with their FFP because when you come to think of it, neither do 9W or AI. Ask yourself What do you get by being a 9W Platinum/ AI Gold that you can’t have via the right co-branded credit card ? Dedicated Business Check in ? Check. Extra Baggage? Check. Priority Baggage? Check. Lounge Access? Check. The only real distinguishing factors ? Vouchers, Dedicated boarding, Upgrade priority and Tier Bonus miles,. I think 3 out of these 4 things are not worth a lot.

    Vouchers – work on a mile based concept. I could blow my entire JP Platinum stash of 5 vouchers on a 1 way upgrade from BOM to JFK. But these vouchers can only get you seats that would have otherwise been flying empty. Plus, I can’t be expected to be physically carrying my vouchers on every damn flight.

    Dedicated Boarding – Good luck with that in India. People don’t care a hoot for priority boarding. Everybody shoves people out of the way like they are F class guests.

    Upgrade Priority – Well, both 9W and AI upgrade elite members when their existing class is overbooked. NOT because there are empty seats on the next higher class. In 5 years of flying around India this has happened to me a zero number of times.

    Bonus Miles – A genuine elite tier perk.

    How could Vistara have skinned the cat ? – To stand out from the competition, Vistara could have done the following : CV-Gold members get auto upgraded to the highest available class, irrespective of booking class. CV-Silver members get auto upgraded to the next higher class. All subject to availability off course. The idea is that a seat shouldn’t be flying empty if there is an elite travelling in a lower class. This would earn the airline a substantial amount of goodwill at very little operational cost.

    Last week I was on a 9W flight where 11 of 12 premiere seats were empty. The fact that 9W would rather fly with those seats empty than upgrade a JP Platinum member gives an impression that the airline couldn’t care less about their most frequent flyers.

  2. Vistara management needs to rethink stuff. Nobody is going to pay 1.5~2x for premium economy on a 2 hour flight. People travelling business class will pay business fares – They don’t want to be associated with anything “economy”. Their FF program Club Vistara is also total potty. I could take 12 9W Premiere flights and hit JP Plat in under 2L INR. With that spend I wouldn’t even be half my way to CV Silver. And from what I’ve seen JP Platinum seems a far better proposition than CV-Gold.

    • This seems the initial challenges between LCCs and Legacy airlines in the US. Premium economy does work in the US. IMO, its the elite benefits to choose these seats for free and choice of many business travelers.

      Contrary to what people think, most (90%+) busines travelers do not pay for business class. And the premium for those is generally 4x the fare.

      I think they need to monetize on premium economy more like a seat upgrade fee rather than fare. This way some elites can get it for free and others can pay for choosing them. I agree 2x fare seems high.

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