Kingfisher airlines launched its domestic air service operations in May 2005.KFA was promoted by UB group and offered a single class- “Kingfisher Class”. KFA successfully leverage the youthful and vibrant image of its kingfisher beer brand and called its airlines as ‘Funliners’ to emphasize the fun-filled experience. Within the first six months of its launch, KFA managed to corner a 6% market share in the domestic air travel mark.
KFA started its operation in May 7, 2005, positioning itself as a budget carrier and not as Low Cost Carrier (LCC).
Following strategies were followed to make it one of the leading Airlines in India.
- It came up with a very appealing promotional line “Fly the good times” and it reflected in the experience the company offered to its passengers.
- KFA is also launched Kingfisher express in order to tap into the growing LCC segment.
- It planned to re-launch its commercial air service called UB Airway again which it had to withdraw it due to government restrictions.
- The company gave best services to its customers that were like providing world class interiors, and in-flight entertainment systems.
- The company came up with only one class airlines rather than other airlines that had Business Class; Economy Class the idea was to combine Business Class experiences and Economy Class experiences in one.
Having a single class freed up more leg space for passengers when compared to normal economy class flights.
- The company started addressing its customers as “GUEST” rather than passengers.
- The company made its mark by providing its guests with more legroom and bigger seats so as to provide better comfort.
KFA has set its sight to become India’s largest airline both is capacity and in market share.
KFA’s Promotional Strategies
As part of its promotional strategy the marketing team of KFA showcased the airline as “the new flying experience”. The following initiatives were taken as part of its promotional strategy…
- Advertisements hoardings at airports depicted the stylish interiors of the “Funliners”, which conveyed youthfull, fun-filled, and world class image.
- INOX multiplexes in Mumbai publicized KFA’s special offers for a month.
- KFA was the official travel airlines for the cast and crew of “Mangal Pandey”- the movie.
- KFA made use of various fashion shows, celebrity golf matches, New Year parties all to build its “Kingfisher” brand.
- The UB groups monthly magazine called “Pegasus” published information about KFA along with other information related to UB group.
- KFA launched many attractive offers to promote its sales like the “King Card” in association with ICICI Bank, in August 2005. This was ment to creat loyal customers for KFA by providing benefits like privileged access to lounges, restaurants, free refreshments at airports, access to 180 golf clubs across India, special invites for lifestyle shows .
- In October, KFA launched “Chill Times Offer” in the month of August 2005 and September 2005.
- In October they launched the “King Saver Offer” which said “Fly like a King, don’t play like one”.
- KFA targeted the frequent fliers business traveler segment, which was dominated by Jet Airways. By offering a “King Saver Booklet”, This booklet contained six free flight tickets and was presented as a free gift if the passenger bought two such booklets each worth Rs. 26,999.Passengers could avail off this offer if they showed there Jet Privilege Member (Gold or Platinum) card.
KFA came up with many new financial strategic moves that made it one of the leaders of aviation industry the company had adopted following strategies:
- It purchased brand new A320 aircrafts powered by the cockpit that was a paperless environment.
- In June 2005 KFA planned to order US$5 bn at the Paris Air Show, for 5 new A350-800 aircraft, and five A330-200 aircraft.
- KFA was first Indian carrier to place an order for A380s.
- In November 2005 it placed an order for 30 A 320 and 20 ATR72-500 aircraft at the Dubai Air Show. This ATR72-500 was worth US$750.
To further its expansion plan KFA put in its bid to buy Sahara in November 2005.How ever negotiation came to a standstill when KFA felt the valuation of Sahara Airlines of around US$750mn to US$1 bn. was too high.
KFA has plans to make an Initial Public Offer (IPO) and raise around US$200 mn that would be used for its fleet acquisition and route expansion activities.
KFA set up Kingfisher International Inc. (KII), a subsidiary in US for its international operations. KFA plans to operate international routs by end of 2007. But KFA had yet to receive permission from the Indian government.
According to Indian government domestic air carriers are not allowed to fly international routes without five year of domestic flying experience. But Mr. Mallya said if he failed to convince the government to change its rules, it would start an airline in a foreign country and fly it to India.
Human Resource Strategies
Prior to launch, KFA signed a “non-poaching alliance” with Air Deccan under which both the airlines agreed not to hire each other’s employee. KFA’s flight attendants called “Flying models” were selected through a national level model contest.
KFA also stressed the fact that its employees had to be capable enough to meet the airlines’ high service standards.
Among one of the biggest HR move for KFA was addition of Nigel Harwood as Chief Operating Officer with effect from August 1, 2005, to strengthen its management team.
Mr. Mallya said “Kingfisher Airlines Limited has a first class management team not just at top most level but also in the second line. This is part of the UB group’s commitment to human resources”.