July 23, 2012
Having just returned from the Farnborough Air Show, I must confess there were a few moments when questioned about the happenings on Indian aviation, it was difficult to put on a brave face. Today the world is in a capsule and it is amazing how much outsiders know about our inside going-ons.
The major topic of discussion is ofcourse, our once five star airline, Kingfisher. “How can it survive? How come your government doesn’t shut it down? Don’t your laws protect people working in a company close to bankruptcy? Insurance rates are high and investors now have little confidence? What about FDI? Which airlines are up for grabs?
Most queries to which one has few answers.
Almost being a month away, I came back to hearing more depressing news- the DGCA had been fired, Kingfisher had more pilot issues and was now flying with barely 10 aircraft (couldn’t confirm this) and fares have touched the skies. A businessman flying to
Bangalore paid Rs 40,000 one way for economy.
So, if this isn’t killing the market, what is?
Thanks to the electronic media phenomenon, we tend to think and live in that minute. That the DGCA had said a case exists for withdrawal of Kingfisher's licence as its financial stress is likely to impinge on the safety of passengers, dates back to January this year. The Times of India newspaper had said an audit by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) into several airlines suggested Kingfisher's flying licence might be under threat due to safety issues. "A reasonable case exists for a withdrawal of their (Kingfisher's) airline operator permit as their financial stress is likely to impinge on safety," the Times quoted the report as saying.
Suhel Seth who laughed this logic off during a discussion on NDTV, might be reminded that the KFA pilots met Mallya in March citing “personal financial distress being a safety hazard as they would not be able to pilot aircraft with a clear head.” So is nobody listening? Little wonder that SkyTrax suspended the official star ranking of product and service quality it had awarded to the airline.
Now, with FDI a possibility- Aerospace Diary learns it could be released by Aug 4 - it will perhaps be a sane decision for airlines like AirAsia and perhaps Tiger to start their new venture on a clean slate with a non-airline partner rather than with dying ones that have lost their brand image.
There is little doubt, the vacuum/slots left by KFA need to be filled - perhaps with more saner fares- to get the market moving and restoring India's image in the international sector again.And also with a little less political interference...is that ever possible!?