The structure of India’s airline market is predicted to vary significantly in the coming months as carriers revisit their business models so as to revive industry viability. Nearly two-thirds of the seats flying on domestic routes are on LCCs, one among the very best proportions within the world. In this highly competitive system, the six scheduled airlines have largely converged in terms of pricing and merchandise. But given their significantly different cost structures, this example is unsustainable for a few, while presenting opportunities for others.
Over time the competing airlines will inevitably plan to carve out more clearly differentiated market propositions, starting from ultra-low-cost to hybrid and premium full service. While that’s high on the agenda, at an equivalent time the merry-go-round of partnerships is beginning to accelerate. beat all, a spicy cocktail.
While India’s low-cost carriers (LCCs) have a domestic market share of 63%, passengers flying on full-service airlines (Air India and Jet Airways) pay on the brink of LCC fares in economy class. As a result, India is virtually a 100% low fares market. As, actually, the operating environment makes it very difficult to be genuinely low cost this poses a big challenge to industry viability.
In 1Q14 the typical fares for LCCs IndiGo and GoAir were within the range of INR5000-5200, with SpiceJet on the brink of INR5000.Jet Airways’ average fare was INR5632, but this includes the contribution of the premium cabin, suggesting that its average economy class fare was closer thereto of the LCCs. GoAir actually had a number of the very best fares within the market in 1Q14, while the regulator also identified a variety of routes where FSC fares were below LCCs. The margin between FSC internet-only and LCC fares has narrowed significantly, but within the last 12-18 months, even the more flexible GDS fares in higher buckets are only marginally higher. Overall there’s little or no difference between LCC and FSC economy class fares.
In the Indian market, LCCs and FSCs both operate from equivalent airports with new aircraft, offering high frequencies on key markets. LCC reliability, on-time performance, consistency, ground product, and cabin crew service standards, particularly on IndiGo, are comparable or maybe better than FSCs. Baggage allowance on discount fares is that the same on all carriers. As a result, from the Indian passenger’s perspective, there’s little to differentiate between an LCC and an FSC in economy class, aside from the very fact that the latter offers a complimentary onboard meal, but this too is being rationalized. And as a bigger proportion of seats are being sold in lower fare buckets even the buildup of frequent flyer points has diminished on FSCs.