Mumbai, Nov 29: Following a steep 80 per cent jump in its codeshare passengers so far this year, private carrier Jet Airways today said it will spend more energies to increase its interline and codeshaing model to build business as well as the brand in the global markets. The country’s largest international airline, which has nine codeshare partners, claims that adding more codeshare partners has worked well for the airline as it has the second largest network from the country after the national carrier Air India.
Apart from the codeshare and equity partnership with Etihad, Jet has codeshare with the Dutch carrier KLM which connects 12 North American cities and 26 European cities, and similar arrangement with Air France also links similar number of destination on these two sectors, while the codeshare with the largest American carrier Delta offers connectivity to 14 American cities. “What we are looking at is not building more hubs but more gateways.
We will focus more on this model as creating a hub is more costly and time-consuming. Going forward, we will focus more on our five gateways of Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Singapore and Amsterdam (which is its European hub),” Gaurang Shetty, whole-time director of the Naresh Goel-run airline said here today. Its domestic hubs are Mumbai and New Delhi. “Key focus will market will be Singapore, which will be our gateway to Far East and Southeast Asia as well as the key market of Australia, for which we are actively working with Quantas Airline now,” Shetty said.
On the importance on codesharing and interline partnerships, he said, “over 80 per cent of our interline sales are on codeshare partner airlines. One in 10 passengers on our flights connects from or to a partner airline now.” Reeling out its own internal numbers, Shetty said Jet’s codeshare traffic has surged from 6,50,000 passengers in 2013-15 to 1.22 million in 2014-15. Further, in 2015-16, the volume touched 2.1 million.
“Our interline volumes have grown 121 per cent since 2013-14 and so far this year it has clipped past 80 percent,” said Shetty. While Jet’s traffic grew to 4.7 million in the January-September 2016 from 4.2 million in the entire 2015, a growth of 11.8 per cent, Jet-Etihad combine saw volumes jump 17.8 per cent to 7 million from 6 million in the same period. With 29.3 per cent market share in Indo-British sector and 22.6 per cent in India-Gulf sector, Jet-Etihad is by far the largest international carrier from the country, he said.
But this comes amidst steeply falling market share in the domestic sector. In the second quarter its domestic market share plunged by over 400 bps to 14.4 per cent from 19.5 per cent in the first quarter. When asked about this, Shetty said, the focus is on profitable growth and not just ferrying passengers from one point to another. But he parried a query on whether all his 46 domestic routes are profitable. He also refused to join the huge aircraft order spree by his rivals saying being Jet it does not want to rush into an expensive asset purchase game but will rather develop market by way of leasing aircraft, code-shares and strategic partnerships.
Jet at present has a fleet of 114 aircraft which includes a mix of wide and narrow bodies- the wide bodies include the Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s, while narrow bodies are the Boeing 737s and ATRs. It has 75 Boeing 737s Max on order which are due for delivery in 2018. This comes amidst report that the airline is said to have deferred the induction of 787s which was scheduled to get delivered by the end of next year. “It is not that only if you place large orders that you are expanding. We keep scanning for all kind of opportunities like leasing of planes to increase our capacity.
At the end of the day, its the bottom-line which matters,” Shetty said. But Shetty, refused to comment whether the airline has cancelled any of the aircraft orders already in place. Jet’s rivals, on the other hand, have not only placed large orders but also want it inducted in reasonable number over the next decade, to capture the market share. For example, low-frills Indigo, which is the market leader with close to 43 per cent market share expects to add 18 more aircraft to its present fleet of 118 by March.
The airline has placed an order for 430 fuel efficient A320 Neos. Similarly, smaller rival Goair, has also doubled its A320 Neo orders by placing an additional 72 aircraft as part of its expansion plan. Goair has plans to start international operations by early next year when it gets a total of 20 aircraft in its fleet. Meanwhile, Jet is also planning to add more red-eye flights to meet the growing demand of incoming international passengers who arrive during the night. As part of its international expansion, Jet will add 11 destinations between India and Abu Dhabi and 18 destinations to Europe going forward.