Out of the Ordinary Saga of Spicejet.

There are at least 8 budget carriers which regularly fly across the skies of India. As per a recent IATA disclosures, air travel in India has grown by more than 20 percent last year. In comparison, passenger traffic in China rose about 10 percent and less than 5 percent in the U.S. India is one of the key sources of aviation industry growth globally.

Aviation in India also poses numerous risks. Various airlines have fallen due to one reason or the other. ATF taxes, tariffs, low fares, to name a few. As many as 17 airlines in India have been shut down in the past 20 years. Accumulated losses of operating airlines have reached Rs 600 billion ($8.9 billion), as per a research paper published in June 2016 by consulting company KPMG and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India.

One of such airlines, Spicejet, was on the verge of extinction till 2014. Its flights were regularly being cancelled; it was just struggling to survive. Its creditors had retreated, debts had mounted.

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. had earlier flopped miserably in 2012. Mallya defaulted on payments to its lenders, vendors, airports and staff. Today, he is forced to assume an ostrich like position.

SpiceJet was almost about to tread the same path in December 2014. It was forced to ground its fleet for one day. Oil companies had refused to fill its aircraft on credit.

In 2016, less than two years later, the story is vastly different. Fortunes of the company have seen a remarkable turnaround. Spicejet’s customers and investors did not betray it. Today, Spicejet has bounced back in style. Its share prices have become more than 3 times in 1 year. (What more can an investor ask for ! ) It is compared with a 1.2 percent decline in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex.  The signal was there for everyone to see that its co-founder Ajay Singh’s has returned to the helm. Enter Ajay Singh, exit Maran.

Read : Spicejet Shares Might Jump Another 300%

Stake for Spicejet.

Spicejet appears keen to catch up with IndiGo. It is believed to be looking to order close to 100 new aircraft. It is looking at all options for its ambitious fleet expansion plans.  Spicejet needs to ramp up its 43-plane fleet as soon as possible to pose a challenge to its competitors – IndiGo, GoAir and others. IndiGo presently has 38.5% market share with its 108-aircraft fleet. It has placed orders for 430 more Airbus A320neo planes, with an ultimate target to build a 1,000-jet fleet !

Read : Indigo in 100 Aircraft Club; Spicejet in 150 Aircraft League!!

Spicejet’s recovery also reflects a boom in Asian air travel. It has given a bright spot for the plane makers of the world despite recent events, like last month’s so-called Brexit referendum, that have impacted the financial markets. Asian airlines were set to give big boosts to both the biggest plane makers of the world – Boeing and Airbus.

  • China’s Xiamen Airlines slated to buy 30 Boeing 737 Max 200 planes valued at $3.39 billion at list price.
  • India’s GoAir to purchase 70 more A320neos worth $7.5 billion.

Both Boeing and Airbus are upbeat for the aircraft market over the next 20 years. They see a demand driven by a growth in travel, especially in Asia. They estimate that Asia will account for nearly 40 percent of demand.

The Chicago-based company, Boeing: It expects demand for 39,620 new planes worth $5.9 trillion over the next 20 years.

Europe’s Airbus Group SE Airbus: The Company forecast demand for more than 33,000 new planes worth $5.2 trillion. By 2035, the world’s fleet will have doubled from 19,500 to nearly 40,000 planes.

Read : Airbus or Boeing: Whosoever Delivers early, wins Spicejet’s Order

Stake for Boeing.

A Spicejet order like this would be the key for the U.S. manufacturer Boeing. It is lagging behind Airbus in India’s burgeoning budget-airline market.

Segment leader IndiGo and the local units of Singapore Airlines Ltd. and AirAsia Bhd., have only Airbus jets. They have dampened Boeing’s prospects in India’s market.

Stake for Airbus.

“Airbus enjoys 70 percent market share in India and most Indian carriers are growing their business with us,” said Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon. “We’d be delighted to help SpiceJet too.”

Apart from Boeing and Airbus, Spicejet is also going to buy 50 small planes. “The Indian market can absorb as many as 60 narrow-body aircraft a year,” said KPMG’s Amber Dubey, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for regional connectivity will help expand the flier base significantly. “Looking at the delivery schedule of existing orders, there’s clearly space for more,” he said.

Thus, 3 other plane makers – Bombardier Inc., Brazil’s Embraer SA, and the Avions de Transport Regional, or ATR, are in a separate race for more than 50 smaller planes that SpiceJet is buying.

Bombardier Inc. is enjoying a revival with its C Series narrow-body jet starting service and winning a benchmark deal with Delta Air Lines Inc.

Spicejet is now in a position to dictate terms to the plane makers of the world. Today the situation is that the biggest such players – Airbus and Boeing, along with other plane makers are trying to appease Spicejet to win a potential blockbuster order worth $12 billion (approx). Both Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE are eager to supply SpiceJet with as many as 100 planes with hefty discounts as per speculations that negotiations have intensified in the past few months.

“Losing SpiceJet would be a big blow to Boeing,” said Amber Dubey, “SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh knows this and hence is perhaps having interesting conversations with both.”

Win-Win situation for Plane Buyers.

It is now clear that the Airplane market has now become the buyers’ market. Thanks to aggressive Indian buyers like IndiGo, GoAir and Spicejet. They dictate terms now. The sellers have no option but to negotiate hefty discounts. This precisely is the situation where the saga of Spicejet has reached. Sitting comfortable.

All these airline operators now need not worry about the day-to-day operations of the aircraft and any possible frequent fare-war. A major part of the Investment can be easily recovered through the resale of the machine. It will surely return attractive profits. 

Operating an aircraft may not yield any noticeable profit, but reselling it surely will.

Thus, an airline might consider itself becoming an Airplane dealer!

However, the catch is : One must possess the money required to be paid as advance while confirming the order.

Hajj Pilgrimage Season: Air India and Spicejet to do Charters

Two airlines from India – SpiceJet and Air India – have been designated official Hajj charter operators for the forthcoming annual pilgrimage to Mecca.  This will be in addition to Saudia and flynas’s charter operations.

Out of the  twenty-one official departure points identified, the Saudi Gazette reports that Air India will operate from eleven, and Saudia (SV, Jeddah) and flynas (XY, Riyadh) will operate from four each and  SpiceJet will operate from two points to transport nearly 1,40, 000 Hajj pilgrims from India.

A draft schedule has been submitted and is in the process of being approved by both the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Supreme Court Directs SpiceJet to pay Rs 1 Million as Compensation to a Disabled Passenger

Differently-abled people have often been at the receiving end of indifferent treatment from airlines.
4 years ago, a 46-year-old teacher at Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy was on her way to attend a conference on the rights of people with disability. The activist Jeeja Ghosh was offloaded from a Spicejet plane to Goa on the pilot’s insistence as she suffered from cerebral palsy.Jeeja Gosh
A frequent flier who has traveled alone in the country and abroad, Ms Ghosh was offloaded after the pilot declared that she was not fit to fly.
Supreme Court said that a little sensitivity would have saved her the trauma.
SpiceJet told the court that the airline was not informed in advance about Ghosh’s condition and that she could not be moved in absence of an escort.

The court’s judgment incorporates the view that a disability occurs when society fails to incorporate a person’s impairment.

Ms Jeeja Ghosh will receive Rs1 million as compensation from the airline, Spicejet, the Supreme Court ruled on 13th May. 

The court, in its order, movingly quoted the famed Hellen Keller and said, “Jeeja Ghosh herself is a living example who has, notwithstanding her disability, achieved so much in life by her sheer determination to overcome her disability and become a responsible and valuable citizen of this country. A little care, a little sensitivity and a little positive attitude on the part of the officials of the airlines would not have resulted in the trauma, pain and suffering that Jeeja Ghosh had to undergo.”

The top court described the attitude of the Spicejet staff as “callous” and said they had had violated Ms Ghosh’s fundamental rights when they offloaded her from their Kolkata to Goa flight on 19 February 2012.

The court said that SpiceJet acted “in a callous manner, and in the process violated (Aircraft) Rules, 1937 and Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), 2008 guidelines resulting in mental and physical suffering experienced by Jeeja Ghosh and also unreasonable discrimination against her.”

“It is the common experience of several persons with disabilities that they are unable to lead a full life due to societal barriers and discrimination faced by them in employment, access to public spaces, transportation etc.,” the 54-page judgment said.

A bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal also directed officials of the directorate general of civil aviation and the department of disability affairs to have joint discussions to implement the recommendations of an expert committee headed by joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation G. Ashok Kumar.

The court noted that there was need to bridge the gap between the laws made for the disabled and actual implementation.

“India also has come out with various legislation and schemes for the upliftment of such differently abled persons, but gap between the laws and reality still remains,” the court said.

SpiceJet tried to clarify that the airline was not informed in advance about Ghosh’s condition as stipulated by CAR rules and that she could not be moved in absence of an escort.

Calling the order a landmark in that battle, Ms Ghosh said, “Money is important…not the amount but the punishment… it will set a precedent to others not to take such matter lightly.”

Hailing the court’s judgment, Jaya Chatterjee — a friend of Ms Ghosh — said, “When this happened, I was so ashamed. I used to work in an airline myself.”

The airline had in 2012 issued a statement apologizing for the inconvenience caused to Ms Ghosh. SpiceJet has been ordered to pay the activist within two months.

anitaIn January, another activist, Anita Ghai, had alleged that she had to crawl to the passenger coach after deboarding an Air India plane in Delhi. The national carrier had failed to arrange for a wheel chair for her due to “security” reasons, said Ms Ghai, who is also a professor at the Delhi University.

“This is not the first time the judiciary has taken a rights-based approach towards persons with disabilities. For instance, n 2009, the court had upheld the reproductive rights of a woman with a learning disability. This judgment is important as it might pave the way for travel, and in fact infrastructure and services at large, to be more accessible for the disabled. We need to see if this kind of judicial activism can be extended to all forms of transport, and even the right to live in the community.amba

While this judgment might invoke some of the charity-based notions, it’s more in line with the social model of disability, and is noteworthy for pointing out the issues with the medical model” said Amba Salelkar, of the Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice, Chennai.