Tourism industry welcomes ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s plans to launch ultra-low cost airline Akasa Air. Describing Jhunjhunwala’s decision as very positive sign, Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI (Travel Agents Federation of India), said, “Jhunjhunwala is a savvy investor and if he’s bullish on the Indian aviation scenario, that’s good news! We need more competition since that’s good for the consumer. It’s also true that we need better connectivity – many destinations remain under-serviced while the airlines focus on the metro routes.”
Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India), said that Akasa Air being a ultra-low cost airline would definitely encourage more people to travel by air. “But we would still require the right policies and relentless focus on quality, cost and passenger interest,” she said. According to her, India needs more airlines to bridge the gap between demand & supply. “India is a country with a growing economy, improving infrastructure & increasing working groups. Being a youth country, we will witness a rise in working groups & widening of middle-class demography which will in turn boost demand. India aviation is predicted to be the third largest in passenger growth by 2024,” Mayal explained.
The tourism industry is optimistic that demand will rise in the coming days as more and more people get vaccinated. “As more people get vaccinated, the pent up demand for travel is bound to fill up the existing seats and additional capacity will be needed. Newer aircraft will also be more fuel efficient and lead to reduction in greenhouse emissions – that should be one of the parameters the DGCA considers when it grants an operating license,” Prakash pointed out. He also said that if the government can rationalise the taxes on aviation fuel and bring it under the ambit of GST, airlines would be able to offer more affordable fares, accelerating demand. Sounding a note of caution, Prakash said, “The one thing any airline making an entry should remember is that agents form the backbone of the distribution chain and that any attempt to bypass them would be at their own peril.”
“It would be good to have more players flying in the skies to create healthier competition & better cost. The Government needs to define stronger guidelines & establish best practices in place along with protection of consumer & agents’ money for the old & specially the new emerging airlines, to create a healthier aviation industry,” said Mayal.