Jet Airways has a footprint across the entire gamut of Aviation Industry says Anamoy Mitra, a forerunner of the aviation industry

• Narrate what inspired you and your journey from the beginning until you became a General Manager of an airline company.

It is not that there was any inspiration behind joining an airline industry but it just happened. After my MBA, I was working with Bata India when I got a call from Air India. There were interviews, better perks and better opportunity and so I joined Air India. I started my aviation career from Air India. I worked at Bombay, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Dhaka. While I was at Dhaka, I got an offer from Emirates and came back to Ahmedabad and now I am with Jet Airways.

Now, it has been 16 to 17 years that am working with airline companies. Once I entered the industry, I was very happy and grew with varied experiences in cargo, at the airport, sales, as a regional head and also as a country head. Basically, it has been a good journey so far and I find it a good industry to work with.

• In order to start an aviation industry in this competitive world what are the criteria’s one should look for?

In order to start with an aviation industry, first you need to decide the business module whether one wants to go for a full service carrier or a low cost carrier. Once you decide on that, you need to look upon the routes where you want to operate. Depending upon the route and the type of traffic the aircrafts are selected.

Types of aircrafts: There are majorly two aircrafts, Boeing and airbus. Then we have aircrafts as per the accommodation capacity and range of travel. There are aircrafts that can accommodate 60 people whereas there are aircrafts that can accommodate 600-700 passengers. In the same way some can fly upto 500 kms or 1500 kms, some can fly for 2 hours without refueling and some for 8 hours without refueling.

Hence, depending upon your business model, the aircrafts are selected. You also need to decide whether you want to take aircrafts on lease or you want to buy them. Once that is in place, you decide upon the engineering requirements, parking requirements and then you build up the marketing team, sales team and so on. There are a lot many things that are required to be kept in mind continuously in order to run the airline smoothly.

• What are the qualities and qualifications required if one wants to join an airline industry?

If I talk about qualification, then all you need is a graduation background. But if you want to get into flying, you need to get your flying training after class 12. Apart from that nowadays,

there are various aviation institutes that provide aviation courses and training which I think is a new trend. During our days, it wasn’t so, we all are graduates and post graduates. But if you want to move in to the managerial position, you ideally need to have an MBA.
Regarding qualities I would say that you need to enjoy with people as basically it is a service industry. Major qualities that are required are cool temperament and ability to deal with people.

At any stage, you will be interacting and dealing with a lot of people. You need to sort out their problems and that too with a smile. You cannot show irritation or attitude. There are times when one has to face pressure from the opposite side but one has to maintain a cool temper.

• Aviation industry is associated with the aspect of glamour, what are your thoughts on it?

Concept of flying itself is glamorous as earlier flying was taken to be a luxury, so I think glamour comes from there. Apart from that, the commercial campaigns by various airlines also have their hands behind this. They show exotic locations, pretty looking people in uniforms and all.

Basically it is a marketing strategy wherein they try to make it glamorous.
If I talk about people who join the industry due to the glamour element, I would say that they don’t last longer. There is a lot of hard work, irregular working hours and much more that needs to be followed. So, either they get hooked to the work, or they move on. There are a lot of people who leave aviation and join relative industries like hotel, hospitality and other service sectors.

• In your point of view, what are the risks associated with this industry?

An aviation industry is a capital intensive industry. A lot of money has to be put in to get the returns. It is an extremely sensitive industry as far as the economy is concerned. Any happening in any part of the world first affects the travel industry. First thing that people cut down upon is on travel. Within travel aviation gets most affected because amongst various modes of transportation, it is the most expensive. Hence, it is a volatile industry.

Apart from problems like oil rise; recession in the market, unexpected changes like volcanic ash, earthquake, war, epidemic etc. affect aviation to a great extent.

• Aviation travel has become a necessity rather than a luxury. When and how did this transition happen?

The transition took place due to the advent of low cost carriers. They did an excellent job while promoting it where they were talking about 0 fare and 1 rupee fare. People didn’t realize that the air fare might be 0 but the tax component brings it to Rs. 3000. Also, there was a time before recession where we could travel Mumbai-Delhi for Rs. 2000.

It became an attraction because p eople thought that at a price of railway first class or railway AC one could take a flight. Though it is not true as airline fares are much higher. But that mindset that was brought in came to stay. It was a hook to catch on the passengers. Another factor is that it is time saving as long distances can be covered in a very short time. Moreover, the economic power with people has increased from what it was five years back.

• How did the concept of no frill airlines come up?

In an aviation industry it is not easy to get the returns. At times, it is necessary to cut down the costs. That is how came in the concept of low cost carriers where you can cut down on your overheads. Every little service apart from the ticket like food, wheelchair, blocking a seat etc. is charged so that the cost is transferred to the end user.

Low cost carriers are a way forward but then again it can only opt for short distances. A low cost travel is possible within India or at the most neighboring countries, or gulf and Far East but not more than that. So it has its own limitations as well.

• Do low fare carriers affect full service airlines? How does Jet Airways cope up with the competition?

If we cover all passengers, then we can see that there are various kinds of traffics. We have holiday traffic which is not very conscious about the aircraft service and they look at cheap fares. That traffic is definitely going to get attracted to low cost. Then comes the corporate traffic for whom time, service and comfort is important. Whereas, there are another type of people who want to travel in luxury and style and hence they opt for business class. But if we look at volumes, low cost carriers have the highest number of passengers.

Jet airways has its own low cost wings like JetLite and Jet Connect and that is the way we deal with the competition. Moreover, Jet airway has a footprint across the entire gamut of aviation. In Indian aviation, Jet airways is the only airline company that consists of everything that an airline can have. We have business first class, international, domestic, low fare aircrafts, aircrafts having only economy class and much more.

• Has fuel hike affected the industry? How?

The oil price these days remain around $116 per barrel. Almost 40-45 % of the fixed cost gets used for oil. Every dollar increase in the price of oil affects the bottom line of airlines very severely. When a fuel hike happens, lots of plans have to be put on hold like adding new aircrafts, new routes, recruitments etc. When you put things on hold, it affects the growth of an airline. So in the long run it affects the growth of the sector altogether.
Gulf countries have a lot of money and hence they are doing very well. They are expanding, extending destinations and increasing the number of aircrafts. Oil is at a discount there so it is easier for them to operate. Today, even countries like America and Europe having giant airline companies are struggling.

• What do you have to say about Indian airport standards? How do they differ from international airports?

Indian airport are improving a lot and a lot of work has been happening. There was a time when the standards were not upto the mark. Now the good news is that we are coming up with some really world class airports like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi. They really are quality airports. Even Ahmedabad has a pretty decent airport. Only thing of concern is that though good airports are coming up, whether they are really going to cater to upcoming loads or not is something that needs to be looked at. As, looking at the growth of aviation, all the investment that is being made might not be sufficient five years down the line and we might have to go for expansion. Hence, it might be a good idea to make bigger airports now itself that can cater to the future load.

• Narrate the most memorable incident of you career.

I can recall the time when I took over as a country head in Bangladesh. At that time I was working with Air India. It was in 2005 that the SAARC summit was held in Bangladesh and the Prime Minister was to attend the summit. Whenever the Prime Minister travels abroad, he travels by Air India. Being with Air India I had to arrange and handle his entire visit. Handling the Prime Minister’s visit as a country head of an airline is a big honor and requires sensitivity. Apart from this there are several inked memories during my entire career.

• Message to the society

India is rocking currently as people are once again adopting the non violent path in order to get justice. There are a lot of people who are joining the movement. I feel that we need more of it to solve our problems. Hence everyone of us should go for it.

– Anamoy Mitra, General Manager-Sales, Western India (Except Bombay), Jet Airways

“The aviation industry has always attracted me to know more and more about it. Hence interviewing an eminent person from an ace airline company was not just an interview but also a learning class for me. My flight started when I entered his office with shaking hands but the nervousness disappeared when he started explaining the minutest detail about the industry with utmost politeness. He was not only a person who knew about the working of airlines but also someone who could very well study the economy. Though my flight had a shaky start, I landed at a place of knowledge and motivation that was much beyond satisfaction.”

-Dhara Vasavada