Anil Thakraney: IndiGo: because on-time is everything

27 Aug,2012

By Anil Thakraney


A recent report in the TOI announced that IndiGo has replaced the Jet Group as the nation’s No 1 airline. This is no small achievement for IndiGo. Jet has been around for a long time, and runs both, full and low cost service. IndiGo, a more recent player, has, from the start, been a budget airline. So how did they achieve this unexpected feat? Especially considering that there are other low cost airlines in the Indian skies? And what is the learning in this?


Here’s what I think: This is a clear indication that the market in India prefers budget, no-frills travel. This could be because of the not very rosy economic situation at present, but it does indicate what the average desi flier wants. This is also a wake-up call for Dr Vijay Mallya. I have said this before, and will say it again: Kingfisher ought to have been a low cost airline. Mallya and gang went overboard on service and frills, made their airline financially unviable, and burnt their fingers in the process.


There’s another reason IndiGo has become the market leader. Their single-minded and very desirable positioning: Punctuality. I haven’t done a market research study to support this claim, but it’s common sense to me that for a domestic flier, reaching there on time takes top precedence. For a flight of one and a half hour duration, I don’t really care if the chicken biryani is lip-smacking or if the air hostess arrives decked up in a rising hemline. And a movie on board is a silly idea, because I won’t be able to complete it in time. Therefore, punctuality is everything.


Indeed, IndiGo puts its money where its mouth is. They are almost always on time, and I say this from experience. On all personal travel in the last three years, I have only flown IndiGo, and they have never left me twiddling my thumbs in the airport lounge. Clearly, there is some good leadership at work; the company’s core ideology seems to have percolated down to the lowest level. (And this is often not the case in Indian business organizations.)


On a recent flight from Bangalore to Mumbai, I discovered that the airline was celebrating its sixth anniversary. I airily asked the airhostess: “Hey, no chocolates or pastries for the passengers?” She smiled: “Sir, we’ll celebrate by getting you to Mumbai on time. Isn’t that great?” I agree. It is.




[youtube width=”400″ height=”220″][/youtube]PS: Malaysian rice distributor BERNAS released this ad on the occasion of Eid. It’s a heart-rending tale of two orphans. BERNAS runs a charity program, as part of which they donate rice to various orphanages. Keep a hanky on standby.



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