‘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.
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