The Pandemic caused severe turbulence across the aviation industry. While it jolted the entire economy, it is the aviation industry that witnessed an instant and direct setback. A considerable decrease in travel has impacted revenues, and the forced normalisation of the “virtual” directs at a future where travel might limit itself to leisure.
With consequences that are still not fully realised, the aviation players in India are facing both, hurdles, and opportunities to come out stronger and sustainable from the crisis. While players like SpiceJet, Vistara etc. have reworked their offerings to be able to cope with the changing landscape of air travel, the strategic decision of Wadia Group’s Go Airlines to rebrand itself, in the middle of a global crisis, underlines a well carved out edge over the competition in the long term.
In an expansive rebranding model, Go Airlines, a low-cost carrier now chooses to be called ‘GO FIRST’, an ultra-low-cost carrier. For those who are new to the aviation terminology, an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) is different from a low-cost carrier (LCC) as they have different business models with unbundled fares which result in cheaper ticket prices. At ULCC, passengers must pay extra for baggage, while a selection of seats and food are subject to an additional fee. ULCCs also have fewer amenities than simple low-cost carriers.
While many points to a decline in quality in ultra-low-cost carriers, there are reports that suggest that the number of complaints for a low-cost carrier is not exceptionally high compared to the greater number of air travellers. In addition to that, consumers have always known that you get what you pay for. With the glamour days of flying long gone by, the option of paying for everything as per the need sits well with most Indian air travellers.
As the name suggests, GO FIRST is the representation of the airline’s “You Come First” ideology. As travel gets more experimental in the years to come, restructuring one’s business model around the customer needs is the sustainable way forward. To quote, Mr Ben Beldanza, Vice Chairman, Go Airlines (India) Ltd., “The combination of attractive airfares, a squeaky-clean flying experience, well-sanitised flights and on-time performance is what Go First is designed to deliver.
Having said that, does the rebranding and restructuring right in the middle of a global pandemic help GO FIRST in the fullness of time?
The answer is a vehement yes, especially considering the well-established market perception and demand of the Wadia Group-owned airline.
Recently released DGCA numbers underline GO FIRST as the preferred choice for Indian flyers. An 18.2% increase in passenger traffic in the past year, a thriving reputation for on-time performance and an ever-increasing number of carriers, traffic on metro-metro routes, traffic on non-metro non-metro routes, makes it India’s most reliable low-cost carrier. The consumer-centric rebranding and restructuring currently, instils more confidence amongst both, the consumer, and the investor (Go First in about to make its IPO debut) in the airline’s risk-taking capacity and planned offerings.
With India surfacing post the second wave of COVID, airlines have been allowed to operate on 50% occupancy. With the ULCC model, this works out seamlessly for GO FIRST, as they’ve always operated on low occupancy. A lesser headcount of passengers will reduce operational costs, hence making it a profitable and certainly more sustainable business structure.
Beyond the regular, GO FIRST airways has been making headways into various strategically sound announcements and partnerships. The most recent of them all, a new sales and content distribution partnership with World Ticket as its global distribution system (GDS) sub hosting partner and Discover the World (DTW) as its sales distribution partner is a confident step ahead towards business stability, right before its IPO debut.
Business models that place the consumer first resonate not only with the passenger but will also lead to less wastage, thereby making it sustainable and eventually yielding higher profits for the airline. As an airline, to be able to engage and convert the new demographic that chooses air travel, it is essential to offer the best possible costs.
Here’s to braving the turbulence of the Pandemic and staying safe!