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Analysis: SpiceJet offers ‘on-time guarantee’ to passengers

Driven by its recent industry leading on-time performance (OTP) over the last few months, Gurgaon based low fare carrier, SpiceJet, has announced an ‘On-Time Guarantee’ program for its passengers.

All SpiceJet passengers travelling from today May 6, 2014 will be given discount vouchers redeemable on their next travel, for flight delays due to reasons in the control of SpiceJet. In case of a delay of over 60 minutes a voucher of Rs. 500 will be given and in case of delays of over two hours or a flight cancellation, the voucher will be for Rs 1,000.

Analysis

After a low fare, punctuality has been the key driver for Indian passengers selecting a particular airline. For the last year, SpiceJet has been buffeted with a “cheap” tag due to the many low fare promotions and sales the airline is conducting. Formalising its punctuality under a guarantee program is a very intelligent marketing move by SpiceJet, whose neighbour in Gurgaon, and largest domestic Indian airline, IndiGo, has built its reputation on a clean, punctual and hassle-free service.

The trust level of IndiGo with its passengers is so high, that they often still choose the airline even when it is more expensive to fly than even Air India and Jet Airways, India’s supposed “full service” airlines. SpiceJet is emulating this winning formula under its new SOCCH principle “safe, on-time, clean, courteous and hassle-free”. By putting its money where its mouth is, SpiceJet is calling out IndiGo while deflecting attention from its many fare “sales”. Incidentally Socch in Hindi roughly translates to thought in English.

Related article: DGCA rules on delayed and cancelled flights.

India’s civil aviation regulator, the DGCA, already has formal rules in place for delayed and cancelled flights which include mandatory compensation of Rs. 2,000 and higher for delays of two hours or more. (you can read Civil Aviation Requirement Section 3 Series M Part IV Facilities on Delayed Cancelled Flights).

It is also important to keep in mind, IATA, the industry body of airlines, has cleverly ensured the exclusion of many reasons from the catch-phrase “under the control of an airline”. These exclusions which are not limited to SpiceJet, range from a technical failure, to weather, to air traffic control delays, even delays due to congestion at the check-in counters or the security-check line. The announcement from the airline says

This program however, does not cover for any delay due to reasons not in our control such as weather, air traffic congestions, among others.

So is this guarantee just a gimick or something with substance? As usual your thoughts are welcome via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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