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

SP's Airbuz - - Front Page - BY B. K. PANDEY

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.

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