Sky’s the limit for India’s best-connected airline

Corporate May 16, 2016 01:00

By SUCHAT SRITAMA
THE NATION

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With Jet Airways becoming the largest Indian airline to fly between India and Bangkok, its senior vice president Colin Neubronner talks about the carrier’s commercial developments in the region, including Thailand.



WHAT ARE THE MAJOR RECENT COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENTS OF JET AIRWAYS IN INDIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA?
As India’s premier international airline, Jet Airways recently expanded its operations to Bangkok with the launch of new daily flights from its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi. With the introduction of these new frequencies, it has become the largest Indian airline flying between India and Bangkok.
On March 27 this year, Jet Airways launched a third daily frequency from Mumbai to Bangkok, making it the airline with the maximum number of daily flights between the two cities. On the same day, the airline also launched a second daily service from Delhi to Bangkok, offering greater choice to guests travelling between the two capital cities.
These new services from the hubs in Mumbai and Delhi will further strengthen the airline’s growing network and significantly enhance flight options and connectivity for passengers. In addition, guest will be able to make convenient onward connections from Bangkok to destinations in the Asean region with Jet Airways’ code-share airline partners.
 
WHAT ARE THE AIRLINE’S SPECIFIC PLANS FOR THE THAILAND MARKET OVER NEXT FEW YEARS IN TERMS OF NETWORK EXPANSION, CAPACITY AND PRESENCE?
We will be looking at the possibility of expanding our capacity into Thailand. The number of Indian travellers to Thailand has increased by almost 15 per cent on year-on-year basis. The key market segment from Thailand to India comprises Buddhist pilgrimage and leisure. At the same time, Jet Airways is an attractive option for travellers to London, Paris and Amsterdam using India as the transit point.
 
THE AIRLINE IS RECRUITING MORE PILOTS. HOW MANY MORE ARE NEEDED AND WHY? 
The Indian aviation industry is heading for a sustained growth phase. Jet Airways will participate in this growth by enhancing its network and increasing aircraft utilisation to provide greater choice and connectivity to our guests. We plan to continue inducting more first officers from the pool of Indian commercial pilots in the next year. This will be accompanied by a consistent upgrading of existing first officers to captains. The recruitment drive is aimed at hiring 300 first officers over the next 18 months. These first officers will be deployed on both the B-737 and the ATR fleets.
 
WHAT IS THE CURRENT CUSTOMER DEMOGRAPHIC ON THAILAND-INDIA ROUTES?
Presently we have a mix of guests from different market segments. The majority of the passengers to India are from the visiting families and relatives segment – approximately 40 per cent – followed by leisure at 20 per cent and the corporate segment on 18 per cent. Most guests to the UK and Paris are from the leisure segment (50 per cent) and students (25 per cent).
 
DO YOU HAVE ANY MARKETING PLANS AND ACTIVITIES LINED UP FOR THAILAND IN THE REMAINING MONTHS OF THIS YEAR?
Keeping in mind that social media is a preferred channel in Thailand, we are focusing mainly on various digital marketing initiatives. We also have plans to work with several partners in the areas of print media, retail and the hospitality industry.
 
ARE THERE ANY CURRENT OR UPCOMING PROMOTIONS OR SPECIAL DEALS FOR THE THAILAND MARKET?
Our present focus is to strengthen our positioning to destinations such as Paris, Amsterdam, London and the Gulf region. We have attractive deals to these destinations, providing an opportunity to our guests to book early and fly at a reasonable fare. Additionally, we offer short-term fares to key Indian destinations with quick connections from Mumbai and Delhi. We also have a “Best Price” concept by which we ensure guests can take advantage of the best fares on our website.
 
HOW DO YOU ADVISE AND INCREASE AWARENESS AMONG THAI OPERATORS, SUCH AS HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS, TO PROVIDE THE BEST SERVICES FOR INDIAN TRAVELLERS? 
Presently the Thai operators are well equipped to cater to Indian travellers. The Indian travel community is well aware of this and Thailand remains one of the first choices for the same reason. The arrival figures of Indian tourists to Thailand support this. In 2015, 1.06 million Indians visited Thailand, an annual growth of 14.6 per cent. Thai operators have also geared up to cater to special-interest segments such as Indian weddings and Bollywood productions. Thailand is now one of the main international destinations in both areas.
 
HOW DO YOU ADVISE THAI AUTHORITIES TO IMPROVE AVIATION SAFETY STANDARDS AND SERVICES AT MAJOR AIRPORTS?
The Thai authorities have already chalked out a plan, which is regularly shared with the airlines in different forums. There has been improvement in areas such as aircraft navigation and work is in progress in other key areas as well. 
 
ANY OTHER ISSUES AT THE AIRLINE? 
We have noticed an increasing use of mobile phone as a means of transaction in Thailand. We optimised our m-commerce [mobile device] site to ensure a seamless experience and we have witnessed phenomenal growth from m-commerce. The airline has several guest-oriented initiatives such as “Pay-at-Counter” where a guest can book a ticket online but opt to pay for the ticket at the city office. We also launched “Fare Lock” where a guest can make a booking online and choose to pay for it later if they are not certain of travel.