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Jet Airways to fly with two classes, CEO Sanjiv Kapoor says there is space for differentiated model to succeed

Jet Airways to fly with two classes, CEO Sanjiv Kapoor says there is space for differentiated model to succeed

Jet Airways to fly with two classes, CEO Sanjiv Kapoor says there is space for differentiated model to succeed
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By Amrita Das  Apr 12, 2022 5:48:00 PM IST (Updated)

Airline to come back with a hybrid model of business and economy class. It is going through a list of all Jet 1.0 staff who never technically resigned and will reach out as opportunities arise. CEO says it’s a difficult time to be flying, but every airline is dealing with this problem. Focus is on getting all licenses in place so that Jet can resume operations soon.

Sanjiv Kapoor will put Jet Airways back in the skies by the next quarter of this year if all goes to plan. An aviation enthusiast, Kapoor took charge as the airline’s chief executive only last week but has had a packed schedule.

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“We are creating history because this would be the first-ever airline to be revived after completely ceasing operations,” Kapoor told CNBC-TV18. “There are certain expectations from the Jet brand. We not only intend to live up to those, but do better without compromising on the warmth, commitment to excellence in customer service, and sheer poise that defines the brand.”
On the first day after taking charge, Kapoor addressed his teams and announced his plan to build a work culture that people would look forward to coming to every morning, where people would b driven by passion and not by ‘rigid’ rulebooks.
“As Herb Kelleher, a former CEO of Southwest Airlines, once said: ‘I’d rather have a company bound by love than a company bound by fear’,” Kapoor said. “I believe following the golden principle of ‘put yourself in the customers’ shoes’, we can achieve great things. I am investing as much time as possible in meeting the people we work with.”
At this stage, as the CEO shared, all of Jet’s energies are focused on achieving five foundational blocks. First is securing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC). “Our preparations are in full swing, and we hope to conduct our proving flights sometime later this month, enabling us to receive our AOC. Hopefully, this will enable us to start operations in the next few months,” Kapoor said.
Second, focus on people. “We are setting ambitious targets, and to achieve them, we will build a super-amazing team of talented and passionate people who believe in our story. Our vision is simple: To build a ‘people-focused airline for the digital age’. We will make the right investments and hire people who are in tune with the demands of a digital world.”
Kapoor said of the current 200 staff at Jet, more than two-thirds are from Jet 1.0. “For every open position, if there is a former Jet employee who is equally qualified and talented as any other, we will prefer to hire the former Jet employee. After all, the Jet brand was built by them, and we want the best of that talent pool to be with us (of course, in proportion to our size and scale),” Kapoor, who has been tweeting job openings, said.
However, he said, it would be incorrect for all former staff to assume they have jobs with the airline in its new avatar. “Any former Jet staff will need to apply for positions open with us. We will also be going through the list of all Jet 1.0 staff who never technically resigned and will be reaching out as opportunities arise. All staff who join Jet 2.0 will have to join on new terms. Jet 1.0 is no more,” he said.
The third area of immediate focus for Kapoor is aircraft. The airline is in talks with manufacturers and lessors and studying all options. “We want to be fully aware of all available products and the possibilities we can achieve with each of them. We will soon take a call on the kind of aircraft that aligns with our long-term plans. We do not want short-term availability to impact long-term strategy – as I like to say, ‘the tail can’t wag the dog’,” Kapoor said.
The fourth focus area is systems. The CEO said the airline would build robust systems and processes to support operations on the ground and in the air that run like clockwork and make flying on Jet hassle-free for customers by giving them “as much self-service power as possible on the app and website”.
The fifth focus area right now is slots and other infrastructure. “Once we receive the AOC (required before we can start participating in slot meetings), we will need to immediately start working on securing slots and pursue our other infrastructural requirements at airports that we will be operating at,” Kapoor said.
The CEO is joining at a time when crude oil prices are among the highest they have ever been. But this, he says, should not be a problem.
“Fuel prices are a huge challenge, but we hope that the price will subside. Historically, fuel prices have been cyclical, with spikes from shocks caused by global events. It’s a difficult time to be flying, but every airline is dealing with this problem. We believe that taking a longer-term view, there is white space available for a new, differentiated airline to succeed in India,” he said.
Jet Airways plans to return to the skies with a two-class cabin configuration, including a business class cabin designed to global standards and an evolved economy class that offers digital-age customers what they most value while keeping the cost structure competitive with the market.
He explained that while India is one of the world’s largest aviation markets, in terms of air travel, it is the lowest penetrated country among BRIC nations, with air trips per capita being one-fifth that of China.
“The potential for India’s aviation sector is enormous. Due to internal and external factors, the industry has been equally challenging to make money in. India continues to have the highest prices of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and the highest taxes. We know the aviation ministry has been working to bring ATF under the GST regime to reduce the tax burden. Measures like this will help airlines manage costs and keep fares in control,” Kapoor, who returned to the aviation sector after a short stint in the hospitality sector with Oberoi Group, said.
Jet had to go belly up in April 2019 due to a severe financial crisis, and the corporate insolvency resolution process took time till June 2021. Jalan-Kalrock consortium has recently secured another extension to implement the rescue plan it proposed for the bankrupt airline.
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