The changing economy has drastically changed the operations of airlines across India as air travel becomes increasingly affordable. Budget travelers, who previously chose trains over flights, can now choose to travel by plane without having to bother. Statistics show that the share of low-cost airlines (LCCs) has risen significantly in recent years, mainly because corporate travelers are switching to LCCs due to the economic slowdown. In an effort to win back these customers, airlines have introduced low-cost airlines. Full-service carriers have no way of lowering their fares, which means the only strategy is to launch all-economy flights or move their flights to the low-cost wing. However, this step appears to be beneficial to consumers as shown below.
The biggest advantage of low cost airlines is that the average consumer or rather the budget traveler can look forward to traveling by air. Air travel is no longer a dream of the common man. Low-cost air services do not involve expensive frills, such as free food and drinks. Alternatively, customers can purchase their own meals and refreshments on board. They have a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, snacks and drinks to choose from. Some airlines even allow passengers to carry their own food with them. Low cost airlines also enable customers to get discount fares under premium brands. They offer several shuttle services including air-conditioned buses to take their customers to the plane.
Although frequent flyer benefits are not available with all low-cost airlines, some airlines do provide these benefits, allowing customers to easily earn and redeem miles. While most premium airlines focus on metro cities, low-cost airlines have expanded air connectivity to two-tier cities as well. The comprehensive low-cost city economy services cover short routes that include cities, such as Kochi, Coimbatore and Madurai, as well as major cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad. In fact, the low-fare air service initiative is a new trend in the airline industry. Another advantage is that consumers can book their tickets online. They can compare ticket prices and know the price difference to improve their economic benefits. They can use secure online portals to book, pay and print their tickets in minutes. Mobile ticketing options are an added convenience as consumers can book their tickets and check flight status on the go.
According to aviation forecasts, India’s low-cost carriers will capture more than half of the domestic market share. The disadvantages of budget air travel are few. For example, customers may have to concede some legroom due to somewhat crowded seating and luxurious services. LCCs may not allow flexible passage between different airlines or carriers. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, as evidenced by the rapid pace at which low-cost companies are gaining market share. In short, low-cost airlines offer quality service, reliable operations, and standard services.