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British Airways finds India the next big market after the US

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 12:55pm IST | Agency: DNA
British Airways, which has been flying to India since over 84 years now, is currently in the midst of a promotional brand loyalty drive in the country's commercial capital, Mumbai. During its 'Silent Picturehouse' event organised in collaboration with film maker Karan Johar to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema for the crème de la crème of city's high society. Christopher Fordyce, the airline's regional commercial manager (South Asia), spoke to Shahkar Abidi on the sidelines of the event.

What is your view on the Indian aviation industry, which apparently is going through a difficult times?
We are hoping big time on the Indian market, as it is the second biggest after US. India will benefit from of our overall investments in BA to the tune of £5 billion. We are investing the same in newer products, aircraft and technology for an overall better flying experience. We are also strategising our marketing efforts by betting high on Bollywood movies on board the aircraft apart from tailoring products to Indian tastes and sensibilities.

The aviation market also seems to be going through a change with entry of Tata-SIA, Jet-Etihad deal and low cost carrier, Air Asia. How are you going to take on the competition?

It’s exciting as well as a challenging development for us. We have good relation with Tatas, while Singapore Airline is a very good carrier. All in all we are looking forward to the competition.

What are your expansion plans?
At present we are flying 48 flights a week from Heathrow Airport in London to five cities viz; Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. We will start flights to other cities in India, if we see good traction from there. As per our plan, first we will be putting smaller plane in service there and later graduate to bigger aircraft when the traffic grows.

Lots of airlines are making losses in the current market situation. Where does British Airways stand in terms of profitability?

Due to the keen understanding of the market we operate in; the airline has been profitable despite the slowing economy and other factors. Many other airlines on the other hand are making losses.

Boeing Dreamliner is facing lot of technical glitches since the time it was inducted for flying by various airlines across the world. Air India which operates it in India has been having difficult time due to it. British Airways too has Dreamliner in its fleet and how has been your experience?

We are confident of the aircraft and its capabilities and hence will continue to be associated with it.

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