Tie-up to help SpiceJet access wider network of Gulf Air: Ajay Singh
The tieup is commercial and SpiceJet to collaborate with Gulf Air in engineering, cargo, personnel.
What will be the benefit of SpiceJet tying up with Gulf Air?
Ajay Singh: The idea is that SpiceJet passengers get access to a wider network of Gulf Air. They have 50 destinations that they fly to. Of course, Gulf Air passengers also get access to a wider SpiceJet network within India. It is a win-win for both sides. But more importantly, as far as we are concerned, there is a lot to learn from Gulf Air.
Gulf Air has been in operations for a very long time. They have been flying into India since 1960. We as a younger company will certainly try and learn from them. We also hope to collaborate with them in many areas in engineering, cargo, personnel. We will find ways to learn from them and work together.
Does Gulf Air also plan to make any sort of investment in SpiceJet?
Kresimir Kucko: No, this is just a commercial cooperation and we do joint presentation on the market on a different level, as Ajay just said.
Are you interested in buying a stake in Air India? The Indian government has been trying to divest it for quite some time?
Kresimir Kucko: No, at the moment there are no plans from our side although I know the friends from Air India from my previous days during Star Alliance. I wish them all the best but at the moment there is no plan from our side.
Talking of Indian aviation market, passenger flow has increased during October. Do you think this sector has completely recovered from Jet’s shutdown?
Ajay Singh: I think it has more than recovered. It is a testament to the resilience of the Indian aviation market that just within seven or eight months of the failure of a colossal airline like Jet Airways, the sector has recovered. The number of flights and passengers flying should be even more than they were at the time when Jet was flying.
There will be a few blips in this market but the medium and long term prospect of this market is pretty bright. We have 1.3 billion people. They need to fly. Still very few of them fly. Over the last few years, we have been growing about 20%. It is not realistic to expect that you will continue to keep growing at 20% every year. There will be some years where the growth will drop to 10% or less but overall the trend line is strong.
We of course, need to address some of the issues that Indian aviation faces in terms of high cost, low fares and so on. But these are issues which will get resolved over a period of time.
We also keep talking about the economic slowdown these days. Do you think aviation sector is untouched by that so far?
Ajay Singh: You cannot say that it is untouched. Some of the discretionary spend will reduce, certainly some of the vacations will probably reduce but the underlying strength is still pretty large. With regional connectivity and the Udaan scheme, so many of the small destinations are getting tied into the aviation map.
So many of these people will start to come into the aviation net as it were and start to fly. While some discretionary spend will reduce, some vacations will reduce, many more first-time flyers are coming into the market, that will keep the market growing for the time to come.