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Airlines in India: cost and space

The budget airline promoted by the Tatas in collaboration with AirAsia started its operations in the southern region in June 2014.   Now the airline is gearing up to expand its services from other metros. It has announced plans to introduce a number of services from Delhi and Mumbai.

When Capt G R Gopinath launched Deccan Airways as a no-frills airline, he helped expand massively the number of air travellers. Though Air Deccan folded up, IndiGo and Spicejet have emerged as significant players with the former as a leader in the civil aviation segment and even earning handsome surpluses.

The success was built on the induction of a large number of new jets, effective utilisation of the fleet by quick turnaround, cutting down on frills and quality management.

On the lines of the global experience, airlines have been progressively cutting down on the quantum and quality of services. The first casualty was meals and snacks on board, which was quickly followed by reduction in the quantum of free baggage. In international travel, for instance, for years two baggages were allowed, each with 32 kg. It has got reduced to one baggage with 23 kg.  

Most airlines in the US had dispensed even with this, charging even for a single baggage. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been directing airlines to offer a minimum of one baggage limited to 15 kg. But even this seems to be in fo charge.

AirAsia has submitted that this should be dispensed and only a hand baggage be allowed against the earlier submission to charge Rs 199 up to 15 kg for pre-booked baggage and Rs 300 for those checking in at the airport. AirAsia is reported to have offered to lower its base fare by 5-7 per cent or a minimum Rs 150 per ticket if DGCA agreed to the airlines’ suggestion to eliminate free check-in baggage. Times of India reports that last year DGCA toyed with the idea of allowing airlines to offer discount to passengers travelling without check-in baggage.

For long airlines complained of the high prices of fuel. The steep fall in fuel prices during 2014-15 has silenced these on this score. But one witnesses the excuse for offering  a corresponding fall in fares with the usual explanation, that other costs have increased! A refrain of all businesses.

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