From 1 June, Air Sahara, the airline acquired by Jet Airways Ltd, became JetLite, and stopped accepting bookings for business class in keeping with its new-found status as a low-frills airline or value-based airline as Jet terms it—which means it will offer some extras, such as food that budget carriers do not.
It also means the crew now says “Welcome on-board JetLite”, and that some lucky passengers get to sit in business-class seats on aircraft that still haven’t been converted to an all-economy seating.
“I can’t change all the aircraft overnight. Some passengers could get lucky. Only two-three planes have been converted into an all-economy configuration,” said Gary Kinghshott, CEO, JetLite.
There are other changes to be done as well—“the business model, the aircraft, the signage”, according to Kingshott, but he admits that these will be changed “as we go along”. The change in the airline’s livery will be finalized soon, and the new menu will be put in place over the next month, but “it could take six months to get everything in place”, he said, and six more for the planes themselves to be repainted in the new colours. Several of these changes have to be made “in air” even as the airline continues to offer its services—that means, for instance, that many planes cannot be grounded simultaneously for changes such as that to the seating configuration.
Passengers may notice these differences, but the larger challenge facing Kingshott is likely something that will go unnoticed: converting a full-service airline into a value carrier.
Between Jet and JetLite, Jet Airways has 87 aircraft and this has made the renegotiation of leases and contracts with suppliers easy, added Kingshott, who defines JetLite as “a value-based airline, flying point-to-point, in India and beyond, offering efficient no-frills services at value-for-money prices”. “Price being equal with other budget carriers, a flier could opt for the promise Jet brings in (reliability and service),” he added.
JetLite plans to have a “route protection agreement” with Jet Airways whereby Jet will carry JetLite’s passengers in case the latter’s flights are cancelled or vice versa. Hindustan Times