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Saturday, November 12, 2011

"You Matter" from Kingfisher Airlines

I received below email from Kingfisher Airlines last night.
Dear Mr. Chauhan,Membership No. *********
On behalf of Kingfisher Airlines, I am grateful to you for your support and patronage of our services. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on recent developments at Kingfisher Airlines vis-a-vis media reports on our performance.
As you are aware, the Indian Aviation Industry has been faced with the difficult task of coping with high costs and lower yields. Post considerable thought and deliberation, Kingfisher Airlines has rolled out initiatives that aim to drive the long-term profitability in our efforts to meet these challenges.
As announced earlier, we have decided to focus on the full-service market; to this end Kingfisher Airlines has initiated reconfiguration of its aircraft. This exercise will require few of our aircraft to be out of service for the next few weeks. Ergo and in line with maximizing productivity we have rationalized our network, resulting in a temporary discontinuation of approximately 50 flights out of our current operating schedule of approximately 350 departures per day. Once the reconfiguration is complete, these aircraft will be pressed back into service immediately. Clearly the report about our flights being cancelled owing to the supposed exodus of pilots appears to be falsified.
Our service commitment to you remains sacrosanct, and we have taken every measure to reduce any inconvenience caused due to the temporary changes in schedule. Please accept my sincere apologies in case you have been inconvenienced on this account; I truly appreciate your support, and thank you for your understanding.
I look forward to your continued patronage and remain,
Yours sincerely
One of my reader (I would call him "V") owes this mess on the Merger of Air Deccan & Kingfisher Airlines, he has following interesting points. He was with Air Deccan at that point -

In Kingfisher - Deccan merger there was no exact plan of merger at all. All the plans were by the junior level staff (DGM and below) to kick out efficient and better staff Deccan. The loss of Kingfisher is mainly because of un necessary expenses and un controlled number of Managers with heavy pay.

For ex -In Deccan Flt Ops was running with 10 staff with a Single Manager. Manager can contact any department directly and report to Chief pilot/VP.

I agree the number of Dispatchers are less than required, since the self briefing system is introduced, all the related issues where addressed to HQ dispatcher and effectively very less problem observed.

In Kingfisher a normal base dispatch was with 9 Dispatchers 14-16 Ops officers, 5-6 peons, 1 Manager or 2-3 Asst managers, On SM+ Base vise roaster 7-8 people .SM will report to DGM then to GM Then to chief pilot. This is regarding staffing.

If you look into the flight planning there is no effective tankering was there more over too many pilots used to take additional fuel saying some reasons.

Layover was another issue. Without lay over or with reduced lay over company can use 9 to 9.5 crew ratio effectively and the usage will be more.

Well, these are some points to consider, V also says that one can make a PhD Thesis itself why the merger was a failure.

I feel its a very tragic end to a well nourished Brand (Its brand is more powerful than the company).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Kingfisher, Jet made a hash of their business models

Via -
Running an airline in India is a mugs’ game. Once defined as the simple business of “getting bums on seats”—more “bums” means better bottomline—the way the Indian industry is being run, one wonders if the “bums” are paying enough for the seats they sit on.
Thursday’s newspapers said Kingfisher’s auditor was tut-tutting about the poor state of its balance-sheet. Without owner Vijay Mallya putting in more equity, the airline is on a crash course, with accumulated losses eroding more than “50 percent of its net worth.”
Look at the carnage. Kingfisher hasn’t seen black since 2005. Market leader Jet Airways hasn’t sniffed profits since 2007-08. SpiceJet has got a whiff, but has accumulated sackfuls of losses (Rs 720 crore) in the past. In the first quarter of 2011-12, Jetmade a loss of Rs 123 crore after many accounting adjustments, Kingfisher lost a whopping Rs 264 crore, and SpiceJet Rs 72 crore.
A Jet Airways aircraft (R) and Kingfisher Airlines (L) are seen on the tarmac at the airport in Mumbai. Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
One figure tells it all. Between last year and now, the three listed companies – Jet, Kingfisher and SpiceJet – destroyed Rs 6,600 crore of shareholder wealth, a drop of 59 percent when the overall market (as measured by the Nifty index) fell only 13.48 percent.
As for Air India, the less said the better. When last heard of, it had racked up losses of Rs 22,000 crore against a shrinking market share – and its management is accumulating frequent flier miles to-ing and fro-ing between Delhi and Mumbai, trying to wangle thousands of crores in equity infusion. What it needs is an infusion of cyanide.
The airline business is clearly a value destroyer. And it’s doing it all by itself, without help from Praful Patel.
Or is it? In India, there is clear line dividing successful (or near successful) airlines from the rest. And that line is drawn in sand. It divides the pure low-cost carriers (LCCs) with a clear business model (SpiceJet, Indigo) from the ones who operate both full-service and low-cost carriers (Jet, Kingfisher, Air India).
It’s the full-service carriers (FSCs) that are bleeding profusely for they have a confused business model. They have fallen between two stools.
The world over, there are five keys to airline success: costs, costs, costs, costs, costs. This is where the LCCs score over the FSCs.
The first cost in this bums-on-seats business is a four-letter word – CASK, or the cost per available seat kilometre. It helps to have more bums on seats, but the critical thing is to have the lowest possible seat cost per possible bum. CASK is a metric that measures what it costs to fly every seat for each km of distance.
Indigo and SpiceJet are the industry champs in CASK, though clearly comparable figures are not available. A Forbes India report quotes
Citibank’s airline industry analysts Jamshed Dadabhoy and Arvind Sharma as saying that “the capital costs per passenger for full service airlines have jumped several fold over the last few years, while those of budget airlines have remained stable or moved up very little. SpiceJet, for instance, has a CASK of between Rs 2.30-2.40 while the number for Jet Airways is around Rs 3.60.”
The second cost to control is debt. Debt brought Air India down, with some help from Praful Patel, who was the Civil Aviation Minister when the airline suddenly ordered 50 medium and long-range aircraft for $7.2 billion when the management thought 18 would do. The resulting debt laid the airline low. It current debt: a crippling Rs 42,570 crore.
Contrast that with what Indigo and SpiceJet have cannily done. Both take aircraft only on lease. Even if they buy them, the aircraft are resold to financiers and leased back. Says Antique Stock Broking, which put a buy on SpiceJet in July: “The company has used an asset light model for business growth with sale and leaseback strategy. Its entire fleet is currently leased and the strategy has helped the airline to keep its debt levels to minimum, avoiding debt burden. This strategy has paid off SpiceJet very well and it stands out distinctly amongst its competitors. The company has managed to survive the downturn and grow, while competing players are finding it difficult to expand the fleet due to heavy debt burden.”
Jet is better off compared to Air India, but it is still tottering under debt. In a recent interview, Jet’s Senior Vice-President (Finance) Mahalingam Shivkumar agreed that debt exceeded its airline assets. He said: “We have a debt of about Rs 13,400 crore, out of which Rs 9,000 crore is our acquired aircraft. Against that, we have an asset worth Rs 9,000 crore and we have a balance of Rs 4,000 crore.”
The market agrees. Rs 4,300 crore is the value of Jet’s drop in market capitalisation over the last one year.
The third cost is fuel. Thanks to rising fuel prices over the last one year, SpiceJet’s fuel costs as a percentage of sales have moved up from 37 percent to 56 percent of sales, but if its balance-sheet is looking prettier than its competitors’, its not because it is able to drive better bargains with the oil companies. Aviation fuel costs the same for everybody. So what makes the difference?
Aircraft age. Keep your aircraft fleet young, and you get fuel savings. Says the Forbes article on Indigo: “Indigo has six-year sale and leaseback agreements for most of its planes. The lessor takes the planes back after this and the airline can induct a brand new one in its place. Though at a cost, this is effectively like a perpetual elixir of youth. The most important financial implication is that it never has to undertake the ‘D’ check, where the aircraft is completely stripped down and airlines often discover the need to spend on major repairs. This check is usually done when the plane is about eight years old.”
The average age of Indigo’s fleet, as indicated by aviation website is 2.4 years. It’s a fleet-footed toddler in Indian airspace. Go Air’s average fleet age is also a stripling 2.5 years. SpiceJet’s birds are a bit older at an average of 4.7 years.
But the three airlines with a mix of full-service and low-cost operations—Kingfisher, Jet and Air India—had the oldest fleet mix. Kingfisher and Kingfisher Red had 4.6 years and 5.9 (making for an above 5 average for the company as a whole), Jet had 5.8, and Air India had a gerontocratic 9.8 years.
Age is beginning to tell on the big boys.
The fourth cost relates to aircraft maintenance. Globally, airlines have to maintain and service airlines to strict safety standards. This is why airlines with a diverse mix of aircraft tend to have higher costs, because they need separate staff to maintain Boeings or Airbuses or whatever.
The low-cost carriers (LCCs) have cannily focused on having only one basic aircraft (or sometimes two, with the second one connecting the smaller towns). SpiceJet uses Boeing 737s (NextGen). And Indigo Airbus 320s. But the big boys use several types. Kingfisher uses many different Airbuses (from A319-321 to 330) and ATRs. Jet uses Airbuses, Boeings and ATRs. Air India uses Airbuses, Boeings and even a Lockheed L-101 Tristar (anyone’s heard of them?)
In this business, diversity is weakness.
The fifth cost is the cost of idling. Getting bums on seats is one half of the challenge, but there’s no point getting them seated till you can fly them. In short, you have to fly more bums more often and for longer – and this means airlines which keep their aircraft flying for longer hours get better revenues. The figure to watch here is the aircraft utilisation rate – the time the aircraft spends in the air in a 24-hour cycle.
Indigo tries to keep the idle time between two journeys to 30 minutes and manages an aircraft utilisation rate of 11.5 hours a day. Air India’s? Don’t ask. It’s 9.1 hours.
Apart from costs, the full-service carriers compounded their problems by making fundamental strategic errors in their desire to scale up and raise market share.
Domestic market shares in 2001 stood at 26 percent for Jet (including JetLite), 19 percent for Kingfisher, 18 percent for Indigo, 16 percent for Air India, 14 percent for SpiceJet and 7 percent for Go Air, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Two areas are worth mentioning. Mergers and branding.
All the full-service boys messed up their mergers. Coincidentally, all three—Jet, Kingfisher and Air India—went in for acquisitions and mergers in 2007-08. While Jet bought Sahara, Kingfisher bought Air Deccan and Air India merged with Indian Airlines. The traditional logic of mergers is cost savings and synergy, where two and two equals five.
But, surprise, two plus two ended up as three for all of them. While some cost rationalisations did come through from route swapping and capacity and code sharing, all three made branding and HR errors.
Air India never fully consummated the marriage with Indian Airlines as its human resources issues did not get sorted out (pay structures, etc). Jet and Kingfisher committed cardinal branding errors by renaming their low-cast carriers in their own image.
While Jet renamed Sahara as Jet Lite, consumers wondered what the difference was. Kingfisher converted Air Deccan into Kingfisher Red – and duly landed deeper in the red.
The issue is simple: when two brands—one full-service with all the frills of flying, and another, with low fares—are given the same or similar names, how is the consumer to know the difference? It is easy to assume that Kingfisher Red’s service is no different from Kingfisher’s, when the fares of the former are far lower. If Rolex were to buy Titan and name the latter Rolex Lite, will Rolex’s sales go up or Titan’s?
It is more than likely that many air passengers downtraded to the LCCs due to this brand confusion.
The full-service carriers have clearly to rethink their business models and branding. Or else, they can kiss goodbye to profits forever.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Praful Patel Guide to destroying AI – Revised Edition

Air India, India’s national carrier-turned-cadaver, is waiting for its last rites. When last heard of, the airline had turned in a loss of Rs 7,000 crore in 2010-11, and was investing in an oversized hat to hit the government for yet another bailout masquerading as a turnaround package.

Only, the amounts this time are too staggering for Pranab Mukherjee to agree to without a fight. According to a report in The Times of India, the airline will need equity support of Rs 43,255 crore just to stay afloat over the next 10 years. Mukherjee is hoping to raise that kind of money by selling public sector equity this year. If he agrees to bail out Air India, it’s as good as kissing goodbye to this moolah.

With liabilities of over Rs 47,000 crore, the airline is on the verge of defaulting on its loans.

Mukherjee will thus have to chip in with some money willy-nilly – even if he is not asked for the full sum that SBI Caps has suggested as part of its revival plan for the airline. The newspaper says Air India will require Rs 8,372 crore this year itself – Rs 6,600 crore to pay its bills for 2011-12 and Rs 1,772 crore to keep up with loan payments.

But for all this, the airline still won’t be able to make a profit till 2017-18. Air India, it seems, has been fixed – and fixed for good – by former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who has been often been accused by the unions of batting for Air India’s rivals till the ministry was prised away from his grip last January.

When Patel took over as Minister of State for Civil Aviation in 2004, the domestic carrier (then Indian Airlines) was market leader with a 42% share, but slipping. Today, it is No 5 – behind Jet, Kingfisher, IndiGo and SpiceJet – fighting extinction.

Here’s how Praful Patel did it – ruin Air India that is – and there’s nothing his successor Vayalar Ravi can do to rescue it.

First, load it with debt so high that it can never raise its head again. It is now clear the Air India’s financial problems began in 2004 when Praful Patel chaired a meeting of the board in which the airline suddenly inflated its order for new aircraft from 28 to 68 without a revenue plan or even a route-map for deploying the aircraft, says an India Today report.

An airline with revenues of Rs 7,000 crore was being asked to take on a debt of Rs 50,000 crore. Today, it’s losses themselves are Rs 7,000 crore. And the bailout it is seeking is as big as the cost of those 68 aircraft. The government might as well have gifted those birds to Air India.

Second, Patel presented a merger of Air India with Indian Airlines as the panacea for all ills. It is surprising how often ministers suggest mergers when public sector companies head for ruin. When telecom company MTNL was sliding, then Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran was suggesting a merger with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. That didn’t happen, but both MTNL and BSNL are in the sick bay anyway. Praful Patel used the losses of Air India and Indian Airlines to push for their merger, claiming there would be cost savings from synergies. Worldwide, mergers usually destroy value. The Air India-IA merger has been the biggest man-made disaster in aviation history – thanks to their varying cultures and employee costs.

Says Gustav Baldauf, former COO of Air India who fell foul of Patel’s successor and had to quit: “The management never resolved the pending human resource (HR) issues related to the merger. I had warned the Chairman-cum-Managing Director and the Aviation Ministry of the consequences of introducing a single code without resolving issues first. But they never listened,” he told Mid-Day.

Third, Patel seemed to be batting for Air India’s rivals. He handed over lucrative routes to private players. Though Air India had no birthright to every lucrative route, Patel’s overnight manoeuvres in this regard suggested that he had a clear conflict of interest by being both Aviation Minister and board member in Air India.

A Tehelka report quotes Capt Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation expert, as saying that the airline handed over “flying rights on lucrative sectors in the Gulf to foreign airlines, including Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Asia, Singapore Airlines and several others…” One glaring instance of a sudden handover could not have come without Patel’s nod. Tehelka says that in October 2009, the airline sent “letters…to its stations in Kozhikode, Doha and Bahrain stating that it was withdrawing operations on the route” – a route in which the airline was making money hand over fist. Very soon, Jet and Etihad stepped in to fill the gaps, and so did Emirates.vate players. Vijay Mathur/ Reuters

Fourth, Praful Patel’s ownairline preferences made it clear who he favoured. According to replies received under the Right to Information Act by one Jagjit Singh, Patel used mostly private airlines. Between June 1, 2009 and July 2, 2010, 26 of the 41 flights he took between Delhi and Mumbai were with Kingfisher. “It is intriguing that the minister who stresses the need for revival of the national carrier himself chooses to ignore it,” said Singh. And this happened just when the Finance Ministry was asking all government employees to use Air India for their official travel to help revive the carrier.

Patel’s haughty reply when asked about this preference of private airlines: “I am the Union Civil Aviation Minister and not the minister in charge for Air India. As a minister, it is not binding upon me to fly only one particular airline. I fly according to my convenience.” But when he ordered so many places for Air India, was he acting as Minister or superboss of the airline?

Fifth, Patel used his clout with Air India often for personal ends. Another RTI query showed that Patel’s kin used the Air India Managing Director’s office to regularly upgrade from economy to business class. Business class is a cost Patel’s family, which is rolling in wealth, can easily afford. So what does this say about Patel’s attitude to the airline?

But is the new Civil Aviation Minister going to reverse the rot set off by Patel?

According to a Financial Express report, the new turnaround plan does not look any more viable than the deadweight Patel cast on Air India by getting it to buy planes it could not afford. The newspaper quotes a Deloitte review of the SBI Caps revival plan which says it’s simply not viable.

Reason: Air India again wants to buy too many aircraft, just like Patel did. “Aviation consultancy Simat Helliesen & Eichner, which carried out a detailed route planning and capacity exercise, has suggested 87 narrow-body aircraft for Air India by 2015, but the carrier has proposed 143, according to Deloitte’s report dated February 11, 2011,” says the newspaper.

Deloitte’s comment: “The only justification that one can have for going in for such capacity expansion can, therefore, be the adoption of a strategy of buying market share through deploying high capacity into the market (with corresponding lower yields and consequent financial implications).”

This means Air India is planning to sink further into losses for years to come.

Over to you, Mr Ravi. Do you want to go down the same path Praful Patel pushed Air India?

The government’s best bet now is to cut its losses. Air India should be privatised or closed down.

My Opinion -

Is Govt. or say ministers really doing justice to PSU's. Take example of telecom (2G scam), petroleum ministry where just to support Reliance & other companies the PSU's like ONGC, IOCL, BPCL, HPCL has been so much burdened that there market value is peanuts now compared to five years now.

Even look at latest financials of SBI a reduction of 99% in profit in one go. I mean it simply says SCAM...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Air India to take first 787 in October

Air India is slated to take its first 787 in October, the first of 27 the carrier has on order.The first aircraft, likely Airplane 25, will be registered VT-ANA, and powered with twin General Electric GEnx-1B engines. According to Boeing's latest Z23 schedule planning, the Indian carrier will be among the four asian airlines to receive 20 787s in 2011. Air India said at last month's Aero India in Bangalore it anticipated receiving its first 787 in the fourth quarter, in line with the October target, more than three years after its first was expected in September 2008.

My Views -

Should Air India take these aircrafts when it requires tax payers money for its working capital requirements also. As always poor planning by the concerned ministry.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mahindra's Five-Seat Aircraft To Launch Soon

Mahindra Aerospace said this week its new five-seat airplane, which would be India's first indigenous GA aircraft, is expected to fly for the first time next month. According to Indian news sources, the NM5-100 will sell for "20 percent less than a similar aircraft from Cessna." The company has been working for a several years in partnership with India's National Aerospace Laboratories to design the airplane, which is expected to meet FAR Part 23 standards. A larger version of the airplane also is in the works, which would seat 8 to 10. The company has said it plans to become India's first manufacturer serving the GA market, with four to six models for global distribution.The NM5-100 is an all-metal aircraft, with a composite cowling and fairings. It is expected to be used for air taxi, light cargo and medevac, as well as training. Mahindra acquired a majority stake in Australia's Gippsland Aeronautics in 2010.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Low-cost carriers drive Indian revival

Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo's order for 180 Airbus A320s in January has thrown the spotlight back on the country's airline industry, amid growing confidence that the sector could finally be putting behind its troubles of the last few years.

This time, however, it is the low-cost airlines that are leading the way. Privately held IndiGo's memorandum of understanding was for 150 of the new re-engined A320neo and 30 regular A320s, with the deal likely to be confirmed in the coming months. The aircraft, set for delivery between 2016 and 2025, and the move for the Neo, marked the first public commitment for the airframer's re-engined narrowbody.

Another of the country's low-cost carriers, SpiceJet, the airline taken over last year by Indian media tycoon Kalanithi Maran, firmed up an order for 30 Boeing 737-800s featuring blended winglets in late 2010. These aircraft will be delivered from 2012. The carrier, which already operates 24 737-800s and 737-900ERs, has also ordered up to 30 Bombardier Q400 turboprops that will be delivered from the second quarter of this year.

Both are expanding to take advantage of the growth in the price-sensitive domestic market, to increase their network within the country as the infrastructure catches up with demand, and to begin international operations. Under Indian government regulations, airlines must be in business for five years before starting international services. SpiceJet met that criteria last year, and IndiGo will do so later this year.

The three main full-service carriers - state-owned Air India and the publicly listed Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines - are in various stages of recovery. All of them made excessive orders for aircraft in 2005-07, and then dumped capacity in the following years in an attempt to capture market share. But with falling yields, all began to report losses that worsened during the downturn. The capital investments also drained their balance sheets, and all have tried to raise funds through different sources. All three also operate a hybrid business model, with a full service airline supported by a low-cost carrier that they incorporated later partly in response to the emergence of the budget airline market in the country. However, a failure to fully separate the two businesses has meant that the inherent inefficiencies and high costs from the full-service business have seeped into the subsidiaries. They have paid the price.

Air India has been making a loss for years. Beset by internal resistance to change and public objection to the state using tax dollars to bail it out, it is still trying to overcome its many problems. Jet and Kingfisher also reported losses, but appear to be faring better after cutting capacity and costs, and as the recovering economy boosted demand. All of them want to begin new services and say that they are ready to compete once again. But the low-cost carriers, despite their significantly smaller fleets, are holding their own. Indian airlines carried 4.88 million passengers in November, up 5.9% from October. While Jet Airways and its subsidiary JetLite were the domestic market leaders with a 26.2% share, followed by Kingfisher with 19.1%, IndiGo edged ahead of Air India with the third largest share at 17.3%. And IndiGo led the pack with a seat factor of 91%, ahead of SpiceJet with 87.5%, closely followed by Kingfisher.

While infrastructure remains a problem, the Airports Authority of India plans to build and upgrade airports in various secondary cities. It also has plans to build the infrastructure in smaller upcoming cities, citing a growing population and rising demand. That would mean greater demand for new aircraft as airlines renew and add to their fleets.

Boeing said in its 2010 market outlook that India would need 1,150 commercial jets over the next 20 years, while Airbus forecasts demand for 1,032 aircraft over the same time period. Boeing also believes that the airlines are finally getting a handle on the situation after the highs and lows of the recent years.

"Airlines have matched capacity more closely to demand, especially on newly launched international routes," says the airframer in its recent 20-year outlook for India. "Measures like [leasing out] have proved effective in mitigating the near-term effects of the [economic] downturn and will, in the longer term, facilitate the return of leased airplanes to Indian carrier fleets."

Airbus predicts in its latest global forecast that domestic Indian traffic volume is set to soar at 9.2% a year, the overall figure exceeding 250 trillion revenue passenger-kilometres by 2029. It also predicts traffic from India to China, South-East Asia and North America as being among the fastest-growing flows.

Low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet are likely to be the major beneficiaries of this growth, suggests the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

"India will also undoubtedly offer an enormous international short-haul market in its own right. The Indian diaspora has traditionally been underserved and, as new regional centres open up, the opportunities for low priced non-stop travel are magnified," it adds.


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