UNMANNED IN CIVIL AIRSPACE
The integration of unmanned aerial platforms into the civil airspace that is normally inhabited by routine civil air traffic would pose immense operational and technological challenges
THE DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF Civil Aviation (DGCA), the regulatory authority for civil aviation in India, issued a public notice in the year 2014 on the operation of drones in the civil domain. While conceding to the fact that drones have a number of applications that are useful and beneficial to the civil society at large, unregulated operations of drones in civil airspace and the absence of proper integration into the air traffic management system could pose serious hazard to normal civil air traffic. Given the state of air traffic management in India in respect of drones, one cannot contest this stand of the DGCA.
The public notice read as: “The airspace over cities in India has a high density of manned aircraft traffic and as such, there would be a possibility of mid-air collision between manned and unmanned aircraft leading to the possibility of a major accident. While the rules are being framed by the regulatory authority, in the interim, no non-government organisation or individual can launch a drone into Indian airspace for any purpose without prior authorisation. Any agency or individual seeking permission to operate a drone in civil airspace would require approval by the DGCA and clearance from Air Navigation Service Provider, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Home Affairs and other concerned agencies.” It would, without doubt, be a tedious exercise indeed for any non-government organisation or private party to obtain sanction to operate a drone in civil airspace! However, draft guidelines for the commercial use of unmanned platforms were prepared and circulated in August last year by the DGCA.
flyer programme elite status that gives early boarding privileges saves money and delivers good value. Mainline airlines, however, would like to get those chronic, lowest-fare business travellers to buy up to the next tier. Squeezing more revenue from any number of them, no matter how few, adds to the bottom line. How willing are price-conscious consumers to pay more? That may depend on how loyal they are to one carrier.
WHAT PRICE LOYALTY? As the number of mainline airlines migrating to the three-tier economy fare structure goes up,
product differentiation between carriers goes down. In the United States, Delta Air Lines was the first major airline to introduce tiered fares. Last month, American Airlines joined United Airlines in rolling out the new fares in a handful of domestic markets with more to follow later this year. In Europe, most major carriers, including British Airways and Lufthansa, were selling bundled fares in regional markets throughout 2016.
The appeal of mid-tier, classic fares may be that they simply deliver what consumers used to have years ago with all-inclusive ticket prices. Then, you reserved a seat, had a checked baggage allowance, could change your flight for a fee, earned frequent flyer points, and didn’t pay extra for a cup of tea. Today, those items are now offered in new, more transparent packaging.
For a mere 200, £15, €20 or $30 more than the one-way basic economy price, classic fares may be a very inexpensive way for airlines to keep their frequent business travellers loyal.
THE FULL PRODUCT SPECTRUM IN INDIA. Domestic tiered fares are also offered by LCCs in India. SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir each bundle specific elements of the travel experience although the product packages are not the same across all carriers. Yet unlike many of the world’s major airlines that have already adopted or are migrating to a tiered fare structure, Jet Airways continues to offer its lowest fare with all the traditional frills. Every domestic ticket accrues JP frequent flyer miles and includes a checked baggage allowance, meals, flight changes and refunds. With each higher price point comes more generous benefits and greater seat inventory.
ONE MARKET. TWO STRUCTURES. As LCCs grow their domestic networks and add more aircraft, can mainline airlines afford to give all the perks to their lowest-fare passengers to stay competitive? When yield management systems arrived in the 1980s, airlines embraced the power of the technology and adopted inventory-driven ticket pricing to maximise revenue.
Now, consumer segmentation and the explosive growth in ancillary revenue is redefining how airlines sell tickets. The trend to fare bundling seems to be here to stay. At least until the next idea comes along to replace it.