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As we mentioned yesterday, there has been quite a shake-up in the world of aviation lately, all of which is leaving some airline alliances bidding fond adieu to some airlines while welcoming others with open arms. Let's take a look at what 2013 has in store for Star Alliance, and what effects it might have on your own travel.
The world's first and largest airline alliance is set to lose at least two airlines this year with US Airways and TAM leaving after the mergers discussed yesterday, both of which see them switching to Oneworld. This leaves smaller carriers like Avianca, TACA and Copa Airlines to pick up the slack in South America.
If you're planning on flying all over India on your next adventure, Jet Airways' little brother, JetKonnect has made it a bit more comfy. The low-cost carrier has introduced a full-service cabin on their new 737s. This is a far cry from the Temple of Doom, since passengers will have plenty of legroom and be offered a multi-course meal.
Just like on its international big brother, the domestic Boeing aircraft will come equipped with a forward cabin strictly for those that like to be pampered. The Premiere experience will feature dedicated check-in and a higher baggage allowance (30 kgs), along with the normal bells and whistles of flying in business class.
India's third largest airline Jet Airways has been going through some troubled times lately. From selling off planes to fight economic woes and having to cut prices by 40% to try and get some more passengers on board, they have drawn the short straw in terms of airline luck this year.
Now their latest drama has involved a sustained campaign by pilots to call in sick. From last Tuesday, more than half of the airline's pilots said they were unable to fly due to illnesstheir version of striking, since the rules forbid them from striking without giving management sufficient advance warning. The reason for the "strike" is that four pilots were sacked after asking the management to recognize the union they'd formed.
It may not help you get to Vegas to take advantage of awesome hotel deals, but the across-the-board fare cuts in India will make your trip there quite a bit cheaper if you plan of flying from city to city to see all the giant country has to offer.
Air India is slashing domestic fares by as much as 82 percent while competitor Jet Airways announced Monday it would cut ticket prices by 40 percent. Kingfisher Airlines says it too is planning to lower fares in 2009--two days from now--but hasn't yet released specifics.
Indian carriers are facing the same softening demand as airlines in the US, but since fuel bills are also dropping, they can afford the fare cuts--at least for now. Not long ago, we were hearing that the airline meltdown is hitting Asia hardest, so we're waiting to see just how sticky these deals will be.
And we thought Michael O'Leary was overstating the likelihood of airline failures.
The situation is particularly dire in Asia, an emerging market where airlines surged ahead to suit growing demand, only to see their bookings fall dramatically when the economy took a hit. Carriers from India’s Jet Airways to Singapore Airlines are all frantically selling off planes and reducing routes in an attempt to mitigate hemorrhaging profits.
Says one industry consultant:
There is no airline in this region--and that probably goes for most of the world too--that can be confident they will still be here this time next year.
This is going to be a watershed, if it's not already, not just for the industry but for the global economy... Any airline that thinks otherwise is seriously at risk.
At least the service is still good. The day Asian airlines start cutting amenities so their in-flight service resembles the stiff and starving flights within the United States, we’re just going to give up traveling altogether.
· Analsysts Warn of Asia Airline Failure as Tourism Slows [Reuters]
· "Dark years" Ahead for Asian Airlines [AFP, via Google]
India's Kingfisher Airlines had big plans for this winter, including a new route between Bangalore and San Francisco. But the carrier's new flights between India and London are netting an average of 35 passengers--on an A330 with 217 seats. Guess that bar isn't that great?
In light of the troubles, Kingfisher has suspended plans for flights to the US and new service between Mumbai and London--scheduled to start later this month--probably won't happen either.
Kingfisher has also recently partnered with Jet Airways to help reduce costs for both carriers. Though it's not quite a merger, the pair plan to combine forces on fuel purchasing, ground operations and even crew sharing. Every bit of savings will help: Experts say the Indian aviation industry could lose up to $2 billion by the end of the fiscal year in March 2009.
· Kingfisher, Jet Airways Drop International Routes [AW]
· India's Jet, Kingfisher Strike Alliance [AFP, via Google]
· Kingfisher Airlines: International Service Yes, Extra Employees No [Jaunted]