Friday, January 13, 2006


There’s a lot of news coming out about aviation in India. Not all of them good ones in terms of the growth and the lack of ground infrastructure needed to sustain these new entrants. The other thing that comes out of this is the fact that most operators currently and those coming in new are all focusing on the main cities in India that we call Metro or trunk routes. That’s where the clogging occurs and airplane circle overhead for long periods of time waiting to land.

The regional routes are where the growth lies, using smaller Aircraft. That’s not where the Airlines, by and large, are headed. That’s another bad news. This country needs connectivity and we cannot wait for the Government to provide Air Services all the time. There are many routes that are feasible and profitable and there are routes that are not. This is true even in the United States of America. In the U.S. there are communities and cities and even a federal grant provided to operators to connect smaller towns to larger ones on a schedule basis. These grants are a part of the “Essential Services” grants provided by the Government. RegionsAir, Mesa Airlines and others in the U.S. provide these services under these provisions and are doing very well, thank you very much.

We in India sometimes are light years behind others when it comes to learning, planning and executing ideas although we are proud to call ourselves brilliant among all the others on this planet. There are so many things that can be done in aviation and the will to fund these types of business is lacking.

Parking a large Boeing 737 or the latest Airbus A320 and posing with a few cabin crew (of the female kind by the way) gets to the cover of any newspaper, magazine or T.V. Almost no other business in India commands the type of awe, respect or exposure that an Airline business does. That’s the wrong reason to get into this business because, no matter how big some of these chaps promoting Airlines in India are, this business has a nasty habit of backfiring.

So, wake up, you who are investing in Airlines in India, don’t ignore the teeming masses in the hinterland that are also looking for safe, reliable and convenient transportation. The real boom is yet to begin and it's not in the Metros.


N!|{|-|||_ said...

Among other things lacking in the AViation industry in India, I want to know whether the politicos connected with (or running) this business in India have any pilot skills or any previous exposure to this industry? Praful Patel - Does he have a PPL at least? That makes a big difference when you manage such an industry. Don't you think?

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Actually Nikhil, Praful Patel has been the best informed minister as I found him. There have been many in the past who wouldn't know the front end (or the back end) of an airplane and have done nothing in aviation. Had his predecessors done any work, the infrastructure bottlenecks that we have today, would not have been a factor. Having a flying license such as a PPL would help understand the basics but Ministries here make only policy decisions (none of the top secretaries in the ministry, forget the minister, have any knowledge of the Aviation business. Politically appointed IAS officers are chosen to head Air India, Indian and so on. These chaps have no clue about anything, yet they run large Airlines. No wonder these companies are in the red! The "autonomous" DGCA also have no real Aviation experienced people and these guys actually issue licenses and implement policies.
As for the Airline business itself, there are some who have no real knowledge of the business and have hired either retired Indian Airlines/Air India officers or a highly paid white chap to run the business. I have seen Airlines being run like "kirana" shops! I am writing another piece on the current situation and the mergers, acquisitions, financing problems that going to happen in India this year and the next. As mentioned in my previous blog, this space will be used for light reading, anecdotes, some of my adventures during my last 20 years of commercial flying and so on. I will put in the serious stuff about Aviation in the other mag:

zapper000 said...

hello sir,
i hv a point 2 ask u.. dont u think that in the heat of developing infrastructure for airports v r losing out on a major issue.. "ven wil v start to develop our own carriers.. i.e. aircrafts wid a made in india tag.." i hv been goin thru a lot of articles n i found out dat while china has started 2 develop their own carriers v r still stuck up airport improvements, pilot strikes, n many of such ridiculously hyped issues..

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks for your coments Zapper000. You are right China is developing an Aircraft of their won.

President Abdul kalam had asked Indian Aeronatical engineers to develop, if I remember correctly, a 100 seat regional jet. somwhere along the line, we seem to have lost out. Sometime back, India was co-developing SARAS with Russia, a small turbo prop regional Aircraft. Many years later, that project is still stuck in limbo.

However, there is no denying the fact that we do need need better infrastructure on the ground in terms of better Airports. It is a start and better late than never.