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Ancillary Services Rescue Airlines

Airlines in India are succeeding to some extent in milking a few millions of additional rupees from their customers for “extra” services that are now used to be included in their fare prices. 

The Role of Ancillary Services

Ancillary Services

Airlines all over the world are on their way to rake in nearly $110 billion in revenue this year from the sale of so-called “ancillary services”. These services have nothing to do with the operations of the aircraft: fuel consumption, maintenance, landing, parking or navigation charges. They are simply the extras best described as marketing gimmicks. These extras range from a choice of the seat to the volume of leg-space. Depending upon the way an airline fancies its marketing strategies, these may also include the ability to check one or more bags, chose an aisle seat, select seats together and/or in advance, to get reduced ticket change fees or additional frequent flier mileage points, or to get favoured check-in and security clearance procedures. Airlines clearly have today established the practice of charging more for such ancillaries.

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The latest trend for the airlines has been:

to present a fully-stripped down, seat-only “Basic Economy” fares as well as various higher-priced “branded fares” that include various combinations of additional services.

But in the process, airlines have found in their customer feedback notes that they have disappointed more than half of their customers and left as many as 75% of them unhappy with their airline adventures. Such services historically were included in the price of the air-ticket. The airlines are yet to learn how to use customer data effectively to present fare options specifically tailored to the preferences of individual consumers. The skills required for revenue optimization (how a company dynamically adjusts the prices of its services to get, ideally, the highest revenue from a customer who is ready to pay for a service or product) have not yet been developed.

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More and more evidence is coming up which shows that  a large segment of travellers:
– leisure travellers,
– less frequent travellers,
– high mileage business travellers and/or 
– very frequent fliers

are surely not very happy with the kind and constituents of various fare price options that the airlines offer. There is indeed a visible sense of hopelessness across the spectrum of airline patrons.

Ancillary Services


Despite that impediment, despite the still-not-well-defined way of unbundling and re-bundling service packages in their unpredictably priced fares, airlines’ efforts at raising ancillary revenues are setting new records with every passing year.

Ancillary revenue now signifies 12.2% of global airline revenue. That’s more than double considering the industry’s forecasted 5% operating profit margin in 2019. In other words, ancillary revenues have impacted greatly on airlines’ profitability.

The global industry’s $109.5 billion in ancillary revenue now is more than half of the industry’s total amount spent on fuel. In 2019, the fuel bill is expected to be around $206 billion. This trend reveals that the rapidly evolving ancillary revenues have become a vital hedge against escalating fuel prices.

The Role of ATF Prices


Airlines in India have long rued the high cost operating environment and high fuel prices. On November 20, 2019, the Parliament was informed through a written reply by the Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha that four domestic airlines including Jet Airways and JetLite, have shut their operations over the last three years for want of funds and unavailability of aircraft. The government has said that it is conscious of the financial difficulties being faced by the airlines and is responding to the industry situation.

The Minister listed out a slew of measures taken by the government to enable growth in the aviation sector. He said that the government was coordinating with all the stakeholders to resolve their issues.

As a result:
– the central excise duty on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has been reduced,
– 100 per cent FDI has been allowed under the automatic route to ensure modernisation of airports and establish high standards,
– foreign airlines are allowed to invest up to 49 per cent in Indian carriers under the automatic routes and liberalisation of domestic code-share points in India within the framework of the Air Service Agreement (ASA).

However, the Minister made it clear that the government has no role in raising funds for private airline companies as it is an internal matter of the airline and each airline has to prepare its business plan on the basis of its own market assessment and liabilities.

The Aviation Sector Elsewhere.

 
In Thailand, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Airways International, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai VietJet Air and Thai Lion Air have submitted a request to the government to cut the excise tax on jet fuel to avoid downsizing or shutting down operations. They said they have been badly affected by the weak economy, the local currency’s strength, and intense competition. This has reduced tourist inflows.
 
Ancillary Services
The Excise Department has proposed the seven low-cost and full-service carriers to increase the frequency of flights to second-tier provinces to enhance tourism there in return for a reduction in the excise tax on jet fuel. The Excise Department will cut the excise tax provided the airlines offer proposals that benefit the public, including more frequent flights to second-tier provinces.
”The government support is surely required if airlines are expected to take part in stimulating tourism in particular provinces,” the airlines say. “Promoting travel in second-tier provinces is crucial for Thailand’s tourism.”


The United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) is home to two of the biggest global airlines, Emirates and Etihad. The share of the aviation and tourism sector in UAE economy is set to double to $128 billion; is likely to support 1.4 million jobs in the next 20 years, from 800,000 jobs now as per International Air Transport Association (IATA) observations.


Also Read: ATF Price Cut Is Steepest In Last Two Years





Virgin Atlantic Could Not Grow In India Due to Jet Airways Collapse

New Delhi: The closure of Jet Airways (India) Limited changed the India growth plans of Virgin Atlantic. The British airline, which had a code share partnership with Jet Airways, then started its own services between London and Mumbai, as per the airline’s country manager (India) David Hodges.

“We had a code-share partnership with Jet Airways, and we planned to grow that,” Hodges said adding, “Unfortunately, the grounding of Jet Airways changed our growth plans.”

Also Read : Explainer: Jet Airways crisis

One airline books its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations, where it has no presence by virtue of Code-sharing.

Virgin Atlantic will now start its own daily flights between London and Mumbai from 27 October to utilize the space vacated by Jet Airways, which operated three daily flights on this high demand sector. Jet Airways also flew a daily flight between Mumbai and Manchester.

“There was a lot of capacity (between Mumbai and London/Manchester). We were looking to increase our presence in the partnership with Jet Airways and probably fly one Virgin Airways flight between England and India (of the flights flown by Jet Airways),” Hodges said. “We need to be quick and nimble (after Jet’s grounding). So, we decided to start our own services between London and Mumbai.”Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic currently also has a daily flight between London and New Delhi.

Jet Airways suspended operations in April because of a severe cash crunch. A consortium of 26 banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NMCLT) to recover dues worth more than 8,500 crore.

As things stand, Jet Airways has run a loss of more than 13,000 crore in the past few years. Its total liabilities amount to more than 15,000 crore even as lenders have been trying to sell the beleaguered airline as a going concern, but without much success.

Hodges said Virgin Atlantic was looking at forging new partnerships with Indian airlines, which could help the airline get traffic from smaller Indian cities and town. The airline, which already has an interline partnership with Vistara, is looking to forge more such partnerships or code share agreements with other Indian airlines.

“Now, the plan is how we grow in India. Having a code-share with Vistara is definitely an option for us,” Hodges said. “Interline with Vistara has given us great connections from Mumbai and New Delhi. It’s however not very simple. Lots of commercial considerations and decisions will have to be made for this alliance.”

An interline agreement is typically signed between two or more airlines to handle passengers when their itinerary involves travelling on multiple airlines. Such agreements allow passengers to change flights to one on another airline without having to check-in again.

Interlining agreements differ from code-share agreements as the latter usually refers to numbering a flight with the airline’s code even though the flight is operated by another airline.

Meanwhile, going ahead, Virgin Atlantic could look to operate between cities other than New Delhi and Mumbai, and London as the airline plans to tap the number of passengers traveling to England and Europe from other Indian metros.

“I have spoken to a number of Indian airports, and this is an interesting opportunity. There are also other high growth cities across South and North India,” Hodges said. “Bangalore is the next natural city we want to fly from in future, and one that we are currently not flying from.”

Virgin Atlantic will operating its Boeing 787-9 (Dreamliner) fleet between London and Mumbai. The airline currently operates Airbus 330 aircraft on its London-Delhi route. The airline hopes to also provide onward connections to destinations in Europe, South America, North America and South Africa from London for its passengers flying from India.

“Ultimately, we want to be able to compete with bigger airlines like British Airways in terms of network and network size,” Hodges added.




After Posting Rs 4,600 crore operating loss in 2018-19, Air India Aims Operating Profit This Fiscal

NEW DELHI:

Air India posted an operating loss of around Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year. The reasons attributed by its management are :

– higher oil prices and

– foreign exchange losses

The debt-laden carrier expects to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20, as per its senior officials.

Reflecting tough business conditions, the airline’s net loss stood at about Rs 8,400 crore while total revenues touched around Rs 26,400 crore in 2018-19.

Another senior official of Air India said the airline is projected to post an operating profit of Rs 700 to 800 crore in 2019-20, provided oil prices do not shoot up significantly and there is no steep fluctuation in foreign exchange rates.

However, the airline incurred an operating loss of Rs 175 to 200 crore in the three months ended June as closure of Pakistan airspace for Indian carriers resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore when the restrictions were in place, the official said.

Air India had a loss of Rs 430 crore in the four-month period when Pakistan closed its airspace after the Balakot air strikes.

Last week, state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs), led by IndianOil, had stopped fuel supply to Air India at six — Ranchi, Mohali, Patna, Vizag, Pune and Cochin — airports over non-payment of dues.

The official noted that load factor and yields are improving for Air India, which currently flies to 41 international and 72 domestic destinations. Load factor is a measure of seat occupancy and yield refers to average fare paid per passenger.

The situation is anticipated to improve further as more wide-body planes would be available for operations in the coming months, the official added. Air India had grounded several of its wide-body aircraft for maintenance and most of them are in the process of being re-inducted into the fleet.

Air India is to start flying to Toronto from September 27 and to Nairobi in November.

The airline has a debt burden of more than Rs 58,000 crore and servicing the loans is a major challenge as the annual outgo is more than Rs 4,000 crore.

The official who was quoted first said the carrier is facing a financial crisis and disinvestment is the option.

Aviation consultancy CAPA South Asia CEO and Director Kapil Kaul said Air India’s financial position is likely to “significantly improve” in the current financial year.

“CAPA expects a closer to break-even in FY 20 excluding increased costs incurred due to closure of Pakistan airspace. With oil prices expected to stay below USD 60, expect a closer to break-even for Air India in FY 20,” he told PTI.

Noting that improved financial performance would be a positive for divestment, Kaul said a fully divested Air India that is well capitalised and with improved governance and management would ensure that the airline has a relevant future.

India needs a stronger Air India which is viable without taxpayers’ support, he added.

The government has decided on disinvestment of Air India as part of efforts to revive its fortunes. Air India, which has been in the red for long, was sanctioned a nearly Rs 30,000 crore bailout package for a 10-year period by the UPA regime in 2012.




Jet Airways: NCLT admits insolvency petition moved by SBI

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Thursday admitted the insolvency petition moved by State Bank of India (SBI) — under section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) — against Jet Airways, and instructed that the resolution process be wrapped up in 90 days as the matter is of national importance.

Typically, the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) should be completed in 180 days, and an extra 90 days’ time is granted in case the process doesn’t conclude in the stipulated period. The interim resolution professional (RP) has been instructed to submit fortnightly progress reports on the CIRP process, with the first to be filed on July 5, the day of the next hearing.

The tribunal also declared a moratorium on recovery of dues from Jet, the country’s first aviation firm to be admitted for bankruptcy. Jet had over 120 planes, of which only about a dozen have not been de-registered by the civil aviation regulator. The rest of the planes had their leases terminated and many of them have been inducted by other airlines in India or abroad.

Also, on a day which saw the beleaguered airline being admitted under the insolvency process, Jet shares posted their highest single-day gain on the bourses on Thursday, rising 93 per cent on the BSE to end at Rs 64 after declining 75 per cent in the previous 10 sessions. Such a movement in share prices is highly unusual.

Moreover, presiding judges V P Singh and Ravi Kumar Duraisamy did not take cognizance of the Dutch court order that had declared Jet bankrupt, given that cross-border insolvency is still not in place under the IBC and because the jurisdiction of the corporate debtor rests with the tribunal (as the company is listed in India).

SBI, in its plea, said the airline had defaulted on working capital loans of up to Rs 970 crore. Jet had a working capital facility of Rs 505 crore. This account was overdrawn by around Rs 460 crore for 30 days. The lender had also provided a term loan facility of Rs 1,292 crore to the carrier, which owes over Rs 8,000 crore to a consortium of 26 lenders.

jet chart
Jet Airways unusual share movement

Jet stopped operations on April 17 leaving over 14,000 employees in the lurch. SBI had declared Jet an NPA and made provisions in its Q4 results. The other 25 lenders will have to get their claims admitted when the interim RP begins to admit claims of various lenders. On the Jet case, SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said lenders had taken every decision after a lot of deliberation.

SBI said that Etihad Airways had sought waiver of open offer and assurance of flying slots for take over of Jet Airways, but the lenders to the debt-ridden carrier had no authority to accommodate the relaxations sought.

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar defended the lenders’ decision to take Jet Airways for bankruptcy saying “it was their last effort to find a resolution” for the grounded airline and also did not rule out the possibility of liquidation.

“It (taking Jet to NCLT) is the last effort. This is the first case of bankruptcy in the aviation sector, which will be tested,” he said on the sidelines of the bank’s annual general meeting. Nobody appeared on behalf of the airline as most of the key management personnel had resigned as early as in May, the bank told the tribunal.

Ashish Chhawchharia of Grant Thornton has been chosen as the interim RP by SBI for 30 days, and the final decision on the RP will be taken by the committee of creditors. The interim RP will gather details of the airline’s assets along with along with inviting claims from creditors and employees. The two operational creditors — who had filed separate insolvency pleas — will file their claims with the interim RP now that the SBI plea is admitted.




Sudden spike in Jet Airways stocks, gains 66%

Grounded Jet Airways stocks saw a sudden spike on Thursday as its advanced 66 per cent from its intra-day low to hit a high of Rs 44.70 per share during early trade on the BSE.

At 12.46pm, the Jet Airways stock was trading at Rs 41.75 a share, or at 26.13 per cent higher than its previous close on Wednesday.

“A bounce back was due but since the on ground condition of the airline is dull, the surge in the stock price is unlikely to stay for long,” said Deepak Jasani of HDFC Securities.

The state-run State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium of lenders to Jet Airways said on Monday that it had decided to “seek resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) as only a conditional bid was received and requirement of the investor for SEBI exemptions and resolution of all creditors is possible under IBC”.

The company also announced the resignation of two independent directors – Ashok Chawla and Sharad Sharma – on Tuesday, giving another signal that the chances of the airline’s revival were remote.

Besides owing Rs 8,500 crore to public sector banks, the airline has a total liability of about Rs 25,000 crore, which includes dues of operational creditors.

Running out of cash, Jet Airways suspended its entire operations on April 17. The government, subsequently, re-allocated the carrier’s slots and foreign traffic rights to rival carriers.




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