The year 2014 saw the Indian government, which is pro-tourism, take a few measures to boost the industry. The most significant one was the launch of Visa-on-Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). While the Centre's initiatives have given a renewed sense of optimism to the industry, there is a lot more to be done in the year ahead. That is the popular opinion among players from the industry. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to players in the aviation sector to know what the past year was like and their vision for 2015IATA has announced improved industry profitability in its Economic Performance of the Air Transport Industry report. Airlines are expected to post a collective global net profit in 2014 of some USD 19.9 billion, and this is likely to rise to USD 25 billion in 2015. However, the Indian aviation industry does not look so favourable and is struggling amidst high operating costs. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to aviation players on their performance last year and their plans for the Indian market in 2015David LauGeneral Manager - India, Singapore Airlines
In the first quarter of 2014, the Air Services Agreement between India and Singapore was amended to include A380 services to India. On May 30, 2014, Singapore Airlines became the first airline to start commercial passenger A380 services to India to two cities: Mumbai and New Delhi. We also forged partnership with Singapore Grand Prix by becoming the title sponsors for the next two years.
Our regional wing - SilkAir celebrated its 25th anniversary and as of today connects to 47 destinations in 12 countries.
Singapore completes 50 years of diplomatic relations with India in 2015. We will continue to look for growth opportunities within India to strengthen this bond further.Rajesh MenonRegional Sales & Marketing Manager - South Asia, Cathay Pacific Airways
2014 has been a good year for Cathay Pacific. In India, we have revised our schedule from Delhi to operate double daily non-stop flights to Hong Kong. We have also rescheduled flights from South Indian cities of Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai to offer passengers a convenient arrival time. 2014 also saw a growth in corporate travel which is a focus area for us and with a powerful corporate tool we are able to connect with corporate entities and offer them tailor-made solutions. Passenger demand has been strong and we have seen healthy load factors between 80-85 per cent from India. We recently relaunched our website with a new look and feel which is an important step to offer our customers a more enhanced experience across all aspects of our websites.
Cathay Pacific has been voted the World’s Best Airline’ at the Skytrax awards for the fourth time, which is a tribute to the professionalism of our airline. In 2015, we will continue to strengthen our passenger network, introduce new products – both in-flight and on the ground to provide a better end-to-end travel experience for passengers. Nick ParkerCountry Head- India & Middle East, Virgin Atlantic
Our focus in 2014 was on implementing a programme of measure that lays firm foundations for future success. The company’s strategy was to focus on network, alliances and managing the cost base in a way that does not impact the customer. We have focused on increasing revenues and passenger numbers as a result of both, a committed workforce providing exceptional customer service and a loyal customer base with high advocacy. We also identified opportunities for investment into our transatlantic schedule as it looks to maximise the benefits of our partnership with Delta Air Lines. In order to maximise the opportunities we had also announced closure of four routes - Japan, Mumbai, Cape Town and Vancouver. These changes will enable us to better utilise our fleet by flying on routes which deliver maximum profit or strategic importance, while matching customer desire to travel to other global destinations.
India is a strategically important pillar at the heart of Virgin Atlantic’s route network and we remain committed to it. 2014 year was our 14th year of flying to New Delhi and it remains a key business, leisure and VFR route, and continues to be popular. We aim to grow our market share across 2015, continuing to offer customers a unique on-board experience. In summer 2015, we will also be welcoming the brand new Dreamliner 787-9 to India which will start flying daily to London Heathrow from New Delhi.
We will also be focusing our energies in working closely with our travel trade. Experiencing is believing and so we will conduct special FAM trips for our new aircraft for the travel trade fraternity. We will also look at working closely with VisitBritian, Brand USA and NYC & Co. to promote and increase awareness about the destination and how to connect to these.Sudhir SreedharanSenior Vice President - Commercial Operations (Indian Subcontinent, GCC, Africa), flydubai
2014 was an exciting year for flydubai, particularly with regards to our operations in India. Over the past 12 months, we launched flights to Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. These new flights have added capacity to our existing routes to Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Lucknow and were a result of the expanded bilateral agreements between India and the UAE.
As we enter 2015, flydubai will be building on the positive momentum we generated over the last year with the launch of three flights a week from March 31, 2015 to Chennai, our eighth and most recently added destination in India. We will also start operating direct flights five times a week to Mumbai and will increase the frequency of our flights to Delhi to five weekly. This will bring the number of weekly flights flydubai operates between India and the UAE up to 29, reflecting the importance of this market to us.
India and the UAE have enjoyed warm historical relations and are important economic partners. The UAE is now India’s top export destination, for instance, accounting for more than 10 per cent of its tangible exports. flydubai’s new flights will facilitate increased levels of investment, trade and tourism between these two countries.Sajid KhanCountry Manager – India, South African Airways
2014 was an exciting as well as challenging year for the aviation industry. A nod for FDI in domestic airlines got foreign carriers interested in the booming Indian aviation sector. Besides a visible growth in the number of Indians opting for air travel domestically, the number of Indians travelling abroad increased significantly resulting in foreign carriers increasing their commitment to the Indian market by adopting better customer satisfaction techniques. However, at the same time, factors beyond control like Ebola had a major impact on the business since quite a few tourists preferred to avoid certain destinations like South Africa, in spite of being completely safe for travel. Proper information dissemination and awareness creation amongst travellers have helped improve the situation slightly. The industry is hopeful that in 2015, India will not only get new domestic carriers, but will also see a growth in international traffic, including to destinations that are safe in Africa.Neerja BhatiaGeneral Manager-India, Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways will start daily services to Kolkata from February 15, 2015 bringing the total number of Indian cities served by Etihad Airways to 11, along with Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram. Also, the third daily flight to Mumbai will start on February 15, 2015 and to New Delhi on May 1, 2015.
Due to strong demand from business and leisure travellers, Etihad Airways has increased the frequency of its services to India by tripling the number of seats on the Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi routes to 2,996 and 2,730 seats per week, respectively, Besides we have doubled frequency to Kochi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kozhikode. Etihad Airways has also announced that Mumbai and New Delhi will become its first destinations in India to be served with triple-daily flights, strengthening its unparalleled offering with Jet Airways into and out of the country.