By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project
4 November 2011 | There’s no doubt that the low-cost carrier business model has boomed in the past decade. Focusing on innovation and enhanced experiences on top of the traditional low-cost model, ‘no frills chic’ airlines such as Jetblue and Virgin America have created a loyal following. In recent years, this concept has been spreading around the globe, albeit slowly, with start-up carriers such as Virgin Australia, Azul from Brazil and Japan’s Starflyer focusing on the passenger experience in order to differentiate themselves from established players.
In India, a very competitive market that is growing at the world’s second fastest rates, IndiGo has become the second largest domestic carrier by securing nearly 19 percent of the local market in just five years. According to IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh, the airline’s philosophy is “to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations”.
Since its launch in 2006, IndiGo has been the fastest growing low-cost carrier in the world, while posting profits over the last three years. In the 12 months ending March 2011, the airline achieved a 25 percent profit margin on its operations, generating a profit of USD132 million. Traffic in the 2010-11 fiscal year grew with 39 percent, with average load factors above 80 percent. IndiGo ordered no less than 100 A320 aircraft when it started operations and in 2011 pushed for an additional 150 A320neos (for delivery between 2016 and 2025), as well as 30 more A320s, which besides for domestic growth are intended for international expansion.
Branding the passenger experience
IndiGo’s media campaign has focused more on customer service and less on pricing where it is hard to be competitive, and the airline’s avant-garde branding has been a major differentiator. Collaborating with branding agency Wieden + Kennedy, IndiGo has come out with campaigns focused around the no-frills chic concept. Cheeky print ads promoted IndiGo’s same-day return flights from major Indian cities, extra seat pitch (2 inches more than India’s industry standard) and new aircraft. IndiGo’s check-in counters feature banners saying “India’s Coolest Airline” and check-in queues have “Cut The Red Tape” signs. Read full article »