The Coolest Indian Airline: A Promise Well Kept
The airline business is a tricky and a difficult business. Customers here are not just hard to please, but also easy to be pissed off. When many airline companies are finding it hard to survive and keep aircrafts on air (Yes the Beer plane!, and the Maharaja), one airline has been doing what it once promised, consistently and also confidently.
Indigo is a private low-cost airline based in Gurgaon, India. As of March 2012, it is the only Indian airline, making a profit. It was founded by Rakesh Gangwal, and Rahul Bhatia, of Interglobe Enterprises in the year 2006. Indigo commenced operations in mid 2006 after receiving the delivery of Airbus A320 aircraft, the first among the 100 aircrafts that was ordered for, a year back in the Paris Air show. Since then Indigo has come a long way and has replaced the state owned Air India, and Kingfisher airlines, to become the second largest airline in the country by market share.
Indigo has always placed keen emphasis on punctuality and this, is one of the reasons why Indigo has been able to steadily increase market share and profits. Operating in the low-cost category, Indigo does not offer business class seating, and mineral water is served to all passengers on board free of charge. Food and beverages are available on a buy-on-board model, and there are no in-flight entertainment systems also. Passengers are allowed one piece of cabin baggage per paid ticker, and upto 20kgs of check-in baggage.
When the Indian airline industry is going through a rough patch, Indigo is the only airline which has minimal cancellations(almost none), and the most profitable too. In the last one year that I have been flying with them, not once has a flight been cancelled, and the delay in departure, has not been more than 10 minutes from schedule. This again was made up for on air, and the arrival has been on time. Sticking to strict timelines, Indigo has won a huge loyalty over other airlines, which are plagued by untimely flights, and causing inconvenience to passengers.
The crew on board, are also very amiable and serve you with a smile on their face. Though this is the norm of the industry, I have seen straight faced cabin attendants on other flights who make you feel like calling on their services was the biggest mistake of your life. On Indigo, never have I had such an unpleasant feeling once.
Another thing of notice is that their on board magazine, Hello 6E is but a catalog of the merchandise that you can buy on board, and also a medium of communication between the brand and the passengers. Unlike other airlines, Hello 6E is a very focussed communication tool, which builds the brand image, and also drives customers towards purchase (not very subtly though). I have seen other airliners having magazines ridden with ads from cover to cover, thereby increasing the ad revenues maybe, but I do not think there is a direct bearing towards customer action and the brand.
Indigo on its endeavour to be the coolest Indian Airline, has involved some thought in all brand touch points, like the packaging of the food on board for example.
Everything served on board has a short description which tells the buyer what it is, and comes in an eye catching packaging. Indigo is also the first Indian airline to introduce tin packaging which can be re-used, and also acts as a collectible for die-hard brand loyalists.
Upon completing five years of operations, in the year 2011, Indigo received its license to fly international routes. Indigo on its rapid expansion plans has started flights to 5 international destinations.
Indigo also comes across as an honest brand, on its facebook page, where it interacts and engages its fans. Detailed incident reports and public apologies for employee mistakes, have given the brand a significant mileage over other airlines, which seem indifferent about individual customer problems/situations.
Here is a snapshot from their facebook timeline, where there is a detailed incident report for one of their flights from Singapore, which was delayed by more than 16 hours, due to an on board medical emergency involving one of its passengers.
Indigo follows a hybrid pricing system, where the seats are offered at the lowest price, and as the flight starts filling up, the price increases, thereby rewarding early bookings. Indigo has not moved out of the low-cost segment, and has been adding the same type of aircrafts to its fleet, with a focus on keeping its cost at the lowest possible level. The flights also operate with minimum equipment on board(as necessary ofcourse) to save on fuel.
With a dynamic management team, and an increasing fleet, and most importantly, with all flights being on time, thereby making passengers happy, the Indigo story is one of making a policy and sticking to it religiously.
[Package Snapshots: Indigo FB Page]