Competition gaining altitude en route Mumbai-London

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Oct 28 | Updated: Oct 29 2007, 05:12am hrs
Competition on the Mumbai-London route is intensifying, with airlines introducing premium class products to pamper their passengers.

Airlines like British Airways (BA), which has been operating on this route for over forty years now, predict that high traffic is here to stay and the biggest challenge for them is the competition from Air India and Jet Airways. Annual passenger traffic on the Mumbai-London route is estimated to be nearly 2 million.

Admitting that Air India and Jet offer stiff competition to British Airways, Gavin Halliday, area commercial manager, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific of BA told FE, The motive behind launching Club World Cabin for business class is to provide the much-needed comfort and privacy on a long haul flight. We have set the industry benchmark with the new Club World flat bed to re-establish our position as a market leader. The airline has invested euro100 million for enhancing the amenities in their business class, which includes club kitchen, and a laptop locker where passengers can stow electronic items, amongst other amenities. The tickets for Club World have been priced at Rs 2 lakh and above, depending on the season of travel.

Talking about the premium fares for the travel, Halliday opines that Indian travellers have a global approach and do not mind paying for the comfort they get while on board. Without divulging any details on their market share, Halliday says, we have 43 flights operating from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai, with 90% load factors during the peak season.

Jeetendra Bhargav, director (PR), Air India, says that London is at the centre of global air travel and their services are better then British Airways. We started our international operations in 1948 with the London route and have satisfactory results, since then.

However, sources said that Britains Air Transport Users Council gets maximum complaints of baggage losses on British Airways, so Air India is a preferred airline amongst the travellers.

Responding to this, Halliday said that the upcoming terminal V at the Heathrow airport will be dedicated to baggage handling by the airline.

We shall now have a stricter security and baggage procedure in place, CA Haque, general manager, infrastructure, Jet Airways too is gung-ho about the airlines load factors. He said they are doing good business on the route and will break-even on their international routes by next year. Though we have recently started our international operations, we have 30 flights a week operating from Mumbai, Delhi, Amritsar and Ahmedabad and the passenger load factors are on an upward curve. Our lounge facility and premium cabins are a favourite with our passengers. We shall maintain our passenger figures and strive for better.