I was shocked by Jet Airways’ sudden withdrawal of its recently launched Bangalore Brussels flight. Read related article.
It is a well known in the industry, that any international flight route, takes up to three years to stabilise. On the four flights a week, Jet is averaging about 150 passengers on the two weekend flights, and 60~70 passengers on the two weekday flights. Very respectable figures, especially considering, Jet commenced the flights only three weeks ago, and, is competing against global goliaths like British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, and Emirates.
Yet, Jet Airways announced withdrawal of the Bangalore Brussels route within 3 weeks of commencement!!!!
Surely, Bangalore cannot be the reason, and we need to look elsewhere for indicators.
Historically, Bangalore, has never been on the strategic radar screen of Jet Airways for international flights, which owes its corporate loyalty to Mumbai and New Delhi. Even during the super high growth period of 2005-2008, Jet Airways chose to build its international routes from Hyderabad and Chennai, instead of Bangalore, a market begging for flights. Even today, while the poor international route performance of these stations is tolerated in the name of “corporate prestige and brand building”, Bangalore appears to receive step-child treatment from the Jet corporate office.
Jet Airways is facing terrible cost reduction pressures. They do not have the deep pockets, required to establish and sustain an international route. The first station to get the axe is Bangalore.
In a bid to earn income from its excess fleet capacity, Jet Airways is leasing 6 of its 10 Boeing 777-300ERs to Turkish Airlines. The existing fleet of Airbus 330-200 will be used in replacement. There are not enough A330s to go around, so the A330 on BLR-BRU route is needed elsewhere.
Jet Airways flights from Mumbai to Newark via Brussels are facing low loads on the Brussels Newark sector. So downgrading the B777-300ER with a less fuel consuming A330-200 will lessen the losses. Again, Bangalore is the looser.
The recent alliance between Jet and Kingfisher could also be a reason. The Bangalore London Heathrow flight of Kingfisher is performing miserably; On average the flight is reported to carry only about 20~30 passengers daily. Jet could be withdrawing to leave the market to Kingfisher. However, this is a move that will not help Kingfisher. The Kingfisher flight timing slots along with their lack of alliances with any other airlines, do not allow for any onward connections; and there is just not enough traffic, between London and Bangalore. Also, as per a first hand report by my brother, an lifetime Executive Platinum on OneWorld, who flew Kingfisher recently, at my recommendation, the onboard service leaves much to be desired.
A better solution will be for Jet to lease the spare A330s of its partner, Kingfisher, lying parked at HAL airport, and continue to operate the Bangalore Brussels flight. It will help Jet establish its international operations from Bangalore, and give some revenue to Kingfisher also.
Having started the flight, I exhort Jet — stick with Bangalore, and Bangaloreans will reward you in times to come. Credibility is a crucial corporate asset, very tough to obtain, and once lost, next to impossible to regain.