Even as promoters of IndiGo resolve problems, other airlines are cribbing that it is being favoured over flying rights
The news last week was that IndiGo’s two promoters, Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, have had some differences and were trying to resolve them. In a way, this was actually a positive for the airline that its promoters had recognised their problems and were trying to get things back on track before things got out of hand. The markets, however, disagreed and India’s largest and most valuable airline, worth over Rs 50,000 crore, lost almost a tenth of its value while stock markets exuberantly expected another term for Narendra Modi. But now IndiGo seems to be in another spot of bother as its rival private airlines are accusing the government of being partial to it as Jet Airways’ old routes get carved up, albeit ‘temporarily’, according to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Jet Airways had built a very strong network of routes between India and the Arabian peninsula, particularly from Kerala, and while it had cancelled these flights as it went into a financial tailspin, they are extremely valuable. Although Air India has the first option on many of these routes, the national carrier is deeply short of aircraft. It has increased capacity on some routes but IndiGo, by virtue of being India’s largest airline, stands to gain the most, particularly since it has several extra aircraft at the current time and with more pilots coming on board, will be able to offer new services very quickly.
The other airlines are understandably aggrieved about this and have a point when they argue that the routes should be divided equally among all of them. International routes are usually far more profitable than domestic sectors for airlines. With Jet Airways’ barely on life support and with the next government almost certain to pull the plug on it, the need of the hour actually is helping air travellers. The collapse of the airline with its international network has meant airfares shooting up on flights to Dubai, London, Singapore among other places. The Indian government must try and be fair to all airlines but it should also understand that high fares could damage the industry in the long run. There is a lot of room for growth for all of India’s airlines and a route map in new sectors must also be promoted with equal zeal. The Civil Aviation Ministry is keen to start new flights to China, South East Asia, Iran and elsewhere in Arabia. Even if IndiGo gets a lion’s share of the old routes, these other sectors hold a lot of promise.
Courtesy: The Pioneer