‘Break even is now a dream from In­dia op­er­a­tions’

From the un­rea­son­able fee hikes to the im­por­tance of the In­dia mar­ket, Yesh­want Pawar, Gen­eral Man­ager-South Asia, Air France-KLM dis­cusses the In­dian avi­a­tion sec­tor.

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win­ter, be­tween Air France-KLM and Delta, there will be 32 flights a week from Delhi, Mum­bai and Ben­galuru. The flights from Mum­bai and Delhi are daily whereas Ben­galuru will have six flights a week. In­dia con­tin­ues to be an im­por­tant mar­ket for the air­line and the air­line hopes to see pas­sen­ger de­mand soar­ing.

“In­dia is a very im­por­tant strate­gic mar­ket for us. With a grow­ing mid­dle class, it con­sti­tutes a big mar­ket that has cre­ated an in­creased de­mand for travel and tourism. It has been es­ti­mated that the up­side po­ten­tial in In­dian avi­a­tion is mas­sive. I see a rapid and con­tin­ued growth in the mar­ket, as In­dia gets big­ger and stronger. The fast evolv­ing In­dian econ­omy has given a big boost to busi­ness class travel; the In­dian busi­ness­men see it as an in­vest­ment and es­sen­tial for busi­ness growth. While larger com­pa­nies are in­creas­ing travel in busi­ness class, the pref­er­ence from the SME seg­ment to travel in busi­ness is also on the rise and 34 per cent of rev­enue from this seg­ment is high yield,” says Yesh­want Pawar, Gen­eral Man­ager - South Asia, Air France-KLM.

70 per cent of the busi­ness in In­dia for the air­line comes from travel agents and they are seen as im­por­tant busi­ness part­ners. “Apart from the per­for­mance-re­lated in­cen­tives to our pre­ferred part­ners, we are also ac­knowl­edg­ing the sup­port from small and medium agents via fun and learn events. The trade web­site AFKL.BIZ is also tai­lor-made for the agents to un­der­stand our prod­uct bet­ter so as to en­able them serve their cus­tomers ef­fec­tively. We have on­go­ing quizzes on this web­site with very at­trac­tive prizes for the trade,” adds Pawar.

Re­cently ap­pointed to look af­ter the In­dia mar­ket, Pawar is “Very con­cerned with the un­rea­son­able fee hikes im­ple­mented in Delhi, Chen­nai and Mum­bai. With the huge in­crease of air­port user fee, the burden on the air­lines and the cus­tomers will in­crease, as it will lead to rise in air­fares and cost of op­er­a­tions. Ef­fec­tively, Delhi air­port al­ready is one of the most ex­pen­sive air­ports in Asia. The ad­di­tional cost to air­lines and pas­sen­gers will run into many mil­lions of dol­lars. It may be expected that air­lines even cease their op­er­a­tions in In­dia due to the ex­treme cost fac­tors. We strongly op­pose this type of un­re­al­is­tic and dam­ag­ing in­creases and ap­peal to the In­dian au­thor­i­ties to put a halt to this.”

The air­line, at present, does not have any plans to in­crease op­er­a­tions from In­dia and feels that the in­crease in aero­nau­ti­cal charges will ef­fect all their fu­ture de­ci­sions.

“The ab­surd in­crease in aero­nau­ti­cal charges will def­i­nitely af­fect the de­ci­sion of air­lines to continue or in­crease their op­er­a­tions in In­dia. The high fuel price will com­pli­ment this al­ready heavy burden af­fect­ing the fi­nan­cials of the air­line in­dus­try. Break even is now a dream from In­dia op­er­a­tions due to this in­crease,” says Pawar.

Yesh­want Pawar Gen­eral Man­ager - South Asia Air France-KLM

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